In my latest book, Red Roses and other romantic stories, I've included a brief introduction to each story to give some background for the reader that might enhance their reading experience. In this month's blog I'm revealing some more detailed information about one - The Gift.
The story begins in the present day, when an eighteen-year-old girl is given a book of Russian piano music by her teacher. Inside is an inscription: To Cecilia from Nancy, Christmas 1914. She wonders who these people were, and we are then carried back in time to World War I, a tale unfolding from the time Nancy gives the piano album to her friend Cecilia for Christmas.
The story was inspired by a similar situation in my past. I was in my final year at school and preparing for my Grade 8 piano exam, when my piano teacher gave me that very Album Russe to use as practice for the sight reading test - not my strongest point in those days! I grew to love many of these pieces over the years, especially Rubinstein's Romance in E flat. Click here to watch a performance of this beautiful piece.
The centenary of this conflict coincided with the revision of The Gift and the publication of my short story anthology, so it was fortuitous that I had chosen that setting for the story.
Only one this month - preparations for the festive season meant less time for reading, and only one book stood out.
Rachel Hore - The House on Bellevue Gardens
The house in the title is owned by Leonie, formerly a fashion model in nineeteen sixties London. Her house has been a haven for various people in times of difficulty. As the plot unfolds in the present day and new people arrive at Bellevue Gardens, Leonie finds she has an overwhelming dilemma as the house proves to be under threat. We also get glimpses of Leonie's life in the swinging sixties. Running through the story is the image of a bird trapped in the chimney, somehow echoing the themes of the book. As the characters work through their troubles, Leonie is desparate to keep the home they all love. Well-written, absorbing, an excellent read.