Love in an English Garden has been chosen as part of the Kindle Monthly Deal throughout November and is just 99p in the UK.
And Australian readers can get the ebook for just $1.49 this month. Happy reading, everyone!
It always amazes me when a moment from my real life finds its way into a novel. Sometimes, it might be something that’s happened to me recently but, in Natural Born Readers, I’ve mined a moment from the late-eighties when our family home was burgled and all our jewellery was stolen.
What really hurt was that some of the pieces taken had belonged to my great grandmother, Emma, including a gold locket with her initials engraved upon it. This would have meant absolutely nothing to anybody else other than what the gold would have been worth melted down, and it still stings me to this day that such a lovely family heirloom has been lost. I’ve given this little moment in my life to dear Flo Lohman and it I hope it resonates with readers. And, if any of you come across a gold locket with the initials ‘E F’ upon it, do let me know!
I’m really excited to launch my new novella today. Part of the Book Lovers series, it’s a sparkly spooky story which can be happily read as a standalone and it’s just perfect for this time of year when the nights are drawing in and you want to snuggle up on the sofa with a jolly good read!
Here’s a bit more about the book:
Callie Logan hasn’t been able to stop smiling since meeting bookseller Sam Nightingale, and she’s thrilled to be spending her first Christmas with his family. For the Nightingales, Christmas Eve is a time for sitting around the fire at Campion House, eating mince pies, drinking mulled wine and reading ghost stories.
As the winter night draws in and the snow begins to fall, the family remembers the Christmas when Sam read from a book over a hundred years old and how strange things started to happen afterwards. Can a book really be haunted? And why is Callie now anxious about the Christmas present she’s bought for Sam?
We recently had an M R James-inspired day out – visiting some of the churches he highlights in his non-fiction book Suffolk and Norfolk. Choosing three churches in West Suffolk, we began our exploration at St Mary’s in Combs. James writes of this church that the: “benches are good; but the glass is more noteworthy.”
I adored this bench end of the man reading a book, but another was definitely the stuff of nightmares.And I couldn’t help spying a green demon in the glass!
The second church we visited was at St Mary’s in Woolpit where James highlights the nave-roof, which is double hammer-beam, and the screen which “has had new saints painted on the panels”.
He also writes that “The eagle lectern is old and good”.
The reason I wanted to visit Woolpit was because I’d read that there were crowns carved on the porch. Could these be the three crowns of East Anglia as mentioned in my favourite story of James’s – A Warning to the Curious? James must surely have known about them because he writes that “The south porch is rich and beautiful.”
St Ethelbert in Hesset was our third and final church of the day. James writes that it “claims careful attention” and he points out “the exceptional wall paintings” which includes the Tree of Deadly Sins. It was certainly impressive.
In true Jamesian style, a local turned up and was delighted to show us the vestry, which is normally closed to the public, pointing out the ancient stairs. He also let us climb the bell tower. We felt very privileged and were relieved that he was a lot happier to be there with us than James’s sacristan in Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook!
I’ve always loved poking around churches because you never know what treasures you’re going to discover or what stories you’re going to hear and, having M R James as a guide is such a great bonus. And I’m thrilled that my new novella, Christmas with the Book Lovers pays tribute to James and his work. It’s published as an ebook on 31st October and is available to pre-order now on Amazon.
It’s Publication Day! I’m really excited to share the third novel in my Book Lovers series with you. Natural Born Readers is a story I’ve been dying to tell for a few years now and I can’t wait for you all to read it.
Ben Stratton and Bryony Nightingale. Everybody thought they’d be together forever. But, when Ben leaves the small market town of Castle Clare to travel the world, Bryony is heartbroken, seeing his departure as the ultimate betrayal.
Throwing herself into her work running the much-loved children’s bookshop, Bryony determines to forget Ben and to start dating again. But Ben doesn’t make it easy for her, sending her postcards filled with his love and posting her foreign editions of all the great romantic novels from the countries he’s travelling through.
Then, after six long years, the unexpected happens and Ben returns, determined to win Bryony back. But will she forgive him and does he have the courage to tell her the truth about why he left her?
This has been the saddest of summers – we’ve lost four of our lovely hens since May.
And the loss of Hermia was a tough one. Like Beatrice, one of her flock sisters, she only had a year of retirement with us. The photo above shows the moment she was handed to us by a British Hen Welfare Trust volunteer last summer.
Hermia was incredibly shy and would dart into the borders, hiding from the rest of the flock. But she did like to sunbathe, stretching her wings out wide.
When she first arrived, she had a completely bare neck but, within a month, she had grown so many new feathers, and her neck was covered with beautiful chestnut feathers.
She became a real beauty and was very photogenic. Last autumn, I harvested some of our squashes and couldn’t resist popping Hermia up on the table. It’s one of my favourite ever hen photos. In fact, I had it turned into a mouse mat and it’s sitting next to me on my desk.
Hermia became a very vocal hen and would march up and down the garden complaining noisily about the lack of perfect places in the hedge to lay her eggs. She loved laying in the hedge but, the trouble was, she used to sneak through into next door’s garden so we were forced into putting chicken-wire up. Hermia, however, wasn’t put off by this and managed to jump over the fence, laying her eggs just where she wanted to. The problem came in getting back. She usually couldn’t which meant bending down behind the wire to scoop her up. In the photo below, you might be able to see some of her eggs in the hedge – it took us a few days to discover her latest secret place!
Then, one day, having laid her egg in the hedge and been scooped up by Roy, she stopped chatting to us, she stopped laying eggs and became very still. Hens can go downhill so quickly and, despite a procedure at the vets and a course of antibiotics, Hermia slowly slipped away from us.
Goodbye beautiful Hermia. We will miss you so much, but your gentle spirit will live with us forever.
Gertie came to Mulberry Cottage in September 2015 with her flock sisters, Celeste and Evie. I named them after the heroines in my novel The Rose Girls, who were – in turn – named after roses.
Gertie soon became tame enough to eat from my hand, but never liked to be picked up!
One of Gertie’s favourite things was the pond. I’ve never seen a hen spend so much time in the mud and water and she didn’t seem to mind when her legs and beak turned black.
She also loved jumping up onto the bin with Evie and peeping into the kitchen window. We used to call the two of them The Bin Twins and we’re going to miss seeing this funny duo marching around the garden together. They really were the best of pals. Here they are examining the wheelbarrow together earlier this summer.
Recently, Gertie took to laying her eggs behind the fig tree, her pretty face looking so picturesque among the leaves. But then she stopped laying and started to slow down, sleeping more and eating less.
Goodbye, pretty Gertie. We adored having you at Mulberry Cottage and will miss that beautiful face of yours looking into the kitchen window.
It’s always so sad when we lose one of our girls and it’s doubly sad when they go after only enjoying a short retirement with us.
Beatrice arrived at Mulberry Cottage in July 2016 with her flock sisters, all named after Shakespearean heroines as 2016 marked 400 years since the great man’s demise.
She was a lovely character with her cute little noises which always made me smile.
But Bea wasn’t a fan of our Hattie. On two occasions, our spaniel managed to knock Bea over whilst running through the hen garden and Bea rolled over like a football. Well, a hen never forgets and Bea had it in for Hattie after that and, when we brought Bea into the house for her medication and Hattie decided to say hello, Bea squared up to her, feathers puffed out!
When we realised Bea wasn’t well, we did all we could to make her comfortable but, although she was still enjoying all her favourite treats including fresh redcurrants from the garden, her condition meant that she wasn’t able to digest her food properly and the vet soon detected a tumour.
We were desperately sad to have to say goodbye to our lovely girl. She really deserved a longer retirement, but I hope she enjoyed her last year with us because we loved having her as part of our family.
Today marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen and I’m celebrating her life and wonderful work with brand new covers for my Austen Addicts series. I hope you love them!
And, for this week only, UK readers can grab the ebook of Mr Darcy Forever for just 99p on Amazon.
That’s exactly what I did when I visited beautiful Bateman’s in East Sussex two years ago. It was that quiet time between Christmas and New Year, and the National Trust had decked the house with beautiful decorations.
I knew that Bateman’s, which was the former home of Rudyard Kipling, was the right setting my for novel, Love in an English Garden, and so it became Orley Court.
I wanted to set my book during the summer months, but my deadline meant that I had to imagine what it looked like in summer, and I didn’t get to visit it again until May this year – two months after the book was published. But how beautiful the garden looked. The wisteria I had imagined, and which features on the cover, was looking glorious and there was plenty going on in the walled garden – a scene which would gladden the hearts of Vanessa, Jonathan and their team.
And it was lovely to see the oast house again. It houses the National Trust shop these days, but readers of the book will recognise it as Jassy’s studio.
I was delighted to meet the custodian and I gave him a signed copy of the novel which is now part of the collection at Bateman’s. How exciting to see my book at Kipling’s home! I feel very honoured indeed.
The nearby village of Burwash became Elhurst in my book, and I have to admit that the one in my imagination has blurred with the real one so completely that, when we visited again, I half expected to see the shops and houses I’d invented!
The Sussex Weald is a very special place and this little corner – the Dudwell Valley (the Ridwell in my novel) is particularly beautiful. Do visit it if you can. I’m sure you’ll fall in love with it too.
Opening from Chapter 1 of Love in an English Garden:
Orley Court sat in the Sussex landscape like a jewel. A sprawling Jacobean manor house built in the early seventeenth-century, it was made from pale gold Wealden sandstone which held a warmth even on the dullest days when the clouds hung heavy over the Downs.
It was a gentle landscape of deep wooded valleys, verdant fields dotted with sheep and horses, and villages full of tile-hung homes, cosy pubs and antique shops full of curios…
Love in an English Garden is available now from Amazon, or order from your favourite local bookshop.