Today’s blog offers two extracts from ‘Violet’ my new novel, plus violet coloured wool, lavender sprigs, and sweet-scented books! In the photograph ‘Violet’ is on top of the pile because it had just arrived from the printers, a month ahead of its publication date. Underneath are the two other ‘Lavender Blues’ novels. Though linked, all three books stand alone and can be read independently.
Below are two extracts from ‘Violet’ and a signed and scented offer…
The first extract is a dream-sequence.
The morning after meeting James, Beth had what she called her Desert Island Dream. It was just before she woke. In the dream she and James were radio guests. Speaking into an old-fashioned mike, they described their tastes and answered questions about what they valued most. Although it was a dream, Beth could feel James’s hand touching hers gently. When she was young, she’d had much the same dream and shared it with her dad. He’d read her Treasure Island. Later they’d played at Survival, inventing crazy uses for objects that they imagined being left over from a shipwreck. While Beth had drawn rope-and-plastic wings, John had made up a game using keys and coins. When Toby joined them, a coconut-football had been added. In the dream the radio presenter, who wore glasses like her dad, asked them a question. “Tell me,” he said, “what two objects would you save to take in your Ark?” Beth smiled, “One each?” “That’s right.” “Easy,” she said, “my lipstick.” “And your… choice?” asked the presenter. Although she couldn’t be certain, Beth thought she heard the word “husband’s” slipped into the middle of his question. In answer James drew out some stacked papers. “The letters,” he said. He selected one which he folded and tightened at the corners, till it sat in his hand like a bird. There were four exposed surfaces, divided by two crossing slits. Inserting thumb and finger below, he moved it back and forth. It gaped then closed. Beth thought it must be hungry. “Give me a letter,” he said. “J,” she replied. “Now two letters.” “A-M.” “Two more.” “E-S.” Each time she spelled out a letter James finger-shuffled his whirlybird. It stretched and collapsed, then pulled itself tall, bowing to an imaginary audience. It was his puppet. “Now choose a flap,” he said, holding it wide open. Beth looked down into the folds. The paper inside was covered with writing. “Any flap?” James nodded. There were four to choose from so she ip dipped, selecting one which she peeled back. The paper felt alive. It reminded her of opening a window on the advent calendar. Inside were four words, printed in red, with green and purple highlights. Leaning forward she read them to herself. The words said: YOU WILL FIND LOVE.
VIOLET IN BRIEF: The passionate, late-life love of Beth and James begins in 2003 on a blind date in a London restaurant. Attracted by James’s openness, Beth feels an immediate, deep connection between his honesty and her own romantic faith. From then on they bond, exchanging love-texts, exploring sea walks and gardens and sharing their past lives with flashbacks to Beth’s rural childhood and her marriage to a dark, charismatic minister…
- You can buy ‘Violet’ signed and scented here.
- You can buy ebook & paperback on Amazon UK here.
- Ebook/paperback are available on Amazon USA here.
The second extract is more lyrical realist…
When Beth and James left The Chapel the rain had stopped. A thin white glare was spreading over water. There were faint flecks and spills on rocks. Further out, the sea was greyly smooth, like linen. “I’m drying out,” she called as they scrambled across pebbles to the sea’s edge. Their feet slipped and scrunched and they held on to each other with a sense of release, as if they’d been rescued. They were outdoors, the sky was clearing and they’d made it through. Facing the water, James put his arm around her waist. “Tide’s high,” he said, “soon be turning.” Beth examined the view. It was much like a painting. “It’s as if everything’s hanging, just for a second.” James laughed, “Well, let’s keep watching.” He looked down to where the waves were hissing and bubbling over stones. “Remember water’s different, it doesn’t settle.” “Yes,” said Beth. She leaned into his side: “It makes you want to get into a boat and row – go way, way out to the horizon.” A silver-grey shaft of sunlight cut across the bay. Birds called out and the air seemed to shine. James squeezed her hand then crouched down, fingering the stones. “What’re you doing?” she asked. “Looking for skimmers,” he said, scooping up a handful of coin-shaped pebbles. Choosing one, he leaned sideways and flicked it across the waves. The stone hop-skip-jumped before disappearing into water. “That’s fun,” she said. He picked up another and threw. Hitting a swell, it bounced high, spun, and dropped out of sight. “Only one jump,” he said, shaking his head. He tried a few more skims, kicking up a line of white splashes. Beth, counting the hits, urged him on. He varied his methods from underarm to overarm then, twisting, curled a throw behind his back. “Tricky,” she cried, clapping her hands. “But what about distance?” she asked, pointing to the horizon. “Can you do that?” James scooped up a handful and rocked back on his heels. “Up and under,” he called and scattered his pebbles in one clean throw. They sailed out and landed in a group, plopping and pricking the surface. Beth laughed. “I couldn’t do that. It’s too far.” “Maybe you could, with practice.” “I doubt it.” “I think you could.” “Not me, I was never any good at things like that.” Her mind flashed back to a scene in a field with her dad. “Why not? I could show you.” “No, I’d rather… But wait,” she said, “there is something, from childhood,” she stepped up to the water’s edge. “How about if I do this?” she called, shifting back and forward to avoid the waves. As she called and shifted a soft, spluttering wash pooled about her feet. “Can’t catch me, Mr Sea,” she sang, dodging. “It’s a great game,” she called again, as a white line ebbed and flowed, hissing on shingle. A larger wave rolled in, driving her back. It broke in a rush, spraying her heels and causing her to jump. “Oh!” she cried, slipping on weed. As she went down, James stretched out and pulled her up. “Thank you, my knight,” she called and dusted herself off. She was by his side now, breathing hard, with her eyes fixed on water. “Shall we take a dip?” he asked suddenly. Beth stared from James to the sea, “Isn’t it freezing?” “Almost certainly, but I’m willing.” She looked around quickly. The beach was empty and suddenly it seemed they were out there with the elements, alone and free, in a world without people. “You really want to?” “As long as you’re up for it.” “That’s crazy.” “Yes.” A wave rushed in, rising on gravel. It filled and foamed and boiled over, then with an abrupt, gurgling hiss sank back to nothing. “OK,” she said, “you’re on.” As they pulled off their clothes the sea swell dropped and a faint glow widened across the surface. The sky was clearing and the air was thin and dream-like. Above them a small flock of birds cried out. Their shadows moved like ghosts on water. There was no one with them. When they waded out, the first shock of cold took away Beth’s breath. Holding his arm, she stepped across stones. The stones turned to sand and she moved more easily. As the water deepened her body firmed up. Her feet went forward, pushing into softness. Her toes and her fingertips tingled; she was in the flow. If there was exposure, it had left her now. She was out here with him, feeling the love, and the tide-change had begun. The cold below had become a kind of wrap-around warmth. The sea, and her excitement, was filling her up. It closed around her thighs and pushed her off. Suddenly she was lifted and her insides freed; the waters held her. For her this was everything – passion in action, desire for James and the fullness of God. She was swimming out naked, with the sun on her back, and only he could see her. Leslie Tate