Welcome to Paragraphs Of Power winner for November 2012, Jean Gill.
|Books by Jean Gill|
Christmas GIVEAWAY to all my readers; ‘Song at Dawn’ by Jean Gill available free in all ebook forms from www.smashwords.com if you use the coupon code FF49C when you check out. UNTIL 24th December – spread the word!
If you can find the time to post a review, whether on smashwords, amazon, goodreads, your blog, wherever, Jean will be very grateful. Feel free to add your comments to this post or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments and questions from readers are always welcome
YOU’D PREFER A PRINT VERSION? Visit, ‘like’ and post a comment on https://www.facebook.com/jeangilltroubadours There will be a random draw on 24th December and one signed copy of ‘Song at Dawn’ will go to the winner, anywhere in the world.
|Author Jean Gill|
Jean Gill is a Welsh writer and photographer living in the south of France with a big white dog, a Nikon D700 and a man. For many years, she taught English in Wales and was the first woman to be a secondary headteacher in Carmarthenshire. She is mother or stepmother to five children.
Publications are varied, including prize-winning poetry and novels, military history, translated books on dog training, and a cookery book on goat cheese. With Scottish parents, an English birthplace and French residence, she can usually support the winning team on most sporting occasions.
Song at Dawn, Winner of the Global Ebooks Award for Historical Fiction (Medieval)
Book 1 of The Troubadours series
1150 in Provence, where love and marriage are as divided as Christian and Muslim. A historical thriller/romance set in Narbonne just after the Second Crusade.
'Believable, page-turning and memorable' - S.P.Review
On the run from abuse, Estela wakes in a ditch with only her lute, her amazing voice, and a dagger hidden in her petticoats. Her talent finds a patron in Alienor of Aquitaine and more than a music tutor in the Queen's finest troubadour and Commander of the Guard, Dragonetz los Pros. Weary of war, Dragonetz uses Jewish money and Moorish expertise to build that most modern of inventions, a papermill, arousing the wrath of the Church. Their enemies gather, ready to light the political and religious powder-keg of medieval Narbonne.
Extract from Chapter 7.
Contrary to popular opinion, baths were taken frequently in the civilised regions of what we now know as southern France. Sometimes tubs and buckets of water were taken to individual chambers but often there were separate women’s and men’s bathing rooms in chateaux, such as the Palace of Narbonne, where Estela is learning to be a troubadour. Her day included an assassination attempt and a murder, and she went to the women’s bathing room, exhausted and shocked, thinking of other people’s enemies rather than of her own…
Estela had no sense of falling asleep nor of waking but the cooling water told her she must have done so and she shivered. Time to dry herself, to return to the world. She stood up, held onto the edge of the tub, thinking perhaps she should have kept a servant to hand after all and she placed a tentative foot on the floor beside the bath. She put her weight onto one foot to climb out of the tub and cried out with pain, trying clumsily to reverse the weight, adding more slicing pain to the foot outside the tub before she could draw it over the side and back into the bath where the blood tricked in swirls into the water. She inspected her foot and saw the cuts, some still with splinters of glass protruding from them. She picked out the splinters, dropping them over the edge of the bath away from her intended exit.
Kneeling, Estela looked over the tub at the floor where she had put her foot. Broken glass. She looked all round the bath for a clear space but there was broken glass everywhere, all round the bath, in a ring two yards or so wide. There was no way she could jump over it, assuming that she could bear to stand on the glass beside the bath and then jump. The very thought made her wince. The bath stool? No. Whoever had strewn the glass had also moved the stool to mock her at the back of the room, beside where her clothes should have been. She took in this new piece of information. Clothes gone. Towels, towels... she scanned the room, knowing already what she would find. No towels. But there was no point worrying about that until she had actually got out of the bath in the first place.
She yelled for help and heard the echoes disappear into the steamy acoustics, the thick walls and no doubt into the clatter and chatter of a grand kitchen before evening meal. Maybe after the meal, or maybe not till the morning, if then, someone might hear her. She shivered as much at the thought of a night in cold water as because she was already cold. There was no way to get rid of the water unless she could make a hole in the tub and use a chunk of the bath itself as a board to walk across the glass? Puncture the solid wood tub with what, exactly? Estela had a bar of soap and her own body. There was no way of scratching or kicking her way through the tub. Think again.
She hated the only plan she could come up with but she had to get out of the tub and there was no other way. Once more she knelt in the bath, leaning over the side so that she could drop her waist-length hair over into a pool on the floor. Contorting herself to reach the hair with her first foot, she climbed out of the bath, bent double all the time, to place her feet on her hair. Then, little by little, she shuffled hair and feet forward, one at a time, in a monkey-crouch that strained her knees to shaking point. An occasional splinter would pierce through the hair into a foot but it was bearable and she kept going until she was sure that she was past the broken glass, when she straightened up with a groan of relief and complaints from her aching muscles, Her swinging hair caught her side and again she felt stabbing pains. Stupid! Her hair was a torture-machine, spiked with splinters of glass. She gathered her hair in one hand, near enough her head to be above the glass splinters and she held it in a pony-tail as far out from her body as she could. Now there was nothing for it but to go out the door, stark naked, holding her hair where it could give her no covering at all. She could only hope that the first person she met would take pity on her. She swallowed hard at the thought of walking through the door into the busy kitchen and her hand was on the latch, ready to face the music when she heard a voice she knew well, on the other side.
‘Estela, are you in there? It’s me, Dragonetz. Aliénor wants you to play tonight and you’re going to be late.’
Help from Dragonetz or face a kitchen-full of curious eyes? Some choices are quickly made. Estela lifted the latch, opened the door enough to hiss round it, ‘Come in here!’ She stepped back quickly so no-one could see her through the doorway as Dragonetz entered the bathroom. ‘Shut the door!’ If she hadn’t been cold, anxious and humiliated, she would have enjoyed the momentary shock in his expression but he mastered himself quickly.
‘It seems you wanted a swim after all,’ he drawled. Then he saw the glass in the hank of hair swinging beside her. ‘What happened?’
‘Turn your back,’ she told him.
‘It’s a bit late for that! You have two breasts and the place of Venus, like all women. I’m not going to ravish you and you’re going to tell me what happened. Let me hold your hair while you put this on.’ While talking, he had removed his tunic and passed it to her.
‘My feet hurt.’
He picked her up in his arms and carried her over to one of the tubs with no glass around it. ‘Can you kneel and lean into the tub?’ he asked her quietly and on her assent, he swept up her hair and unloosed it into the clean water in the un-used tub, swishing it back and forwards so that the splinters were dislodged. He took off the belt round his undershirt and used the buckle like a coarse comb, grooming the hair for more splinters. And finally he ran his hand over the hair, combing it with his fingers, checking that it was clear and clean.
Want to read more?
‘Song at Dawn’ is available in all ebook formats from www.smashwords.com FREE if you use the coupon code FF49C when you check out. UNTIL 24th December – spread the word!
Also available in print from lulu http://www.lulu.com/shop/jean-gill/song-at-dawn/paperback/product-17800067.html
Or amazon http://www.amazon.com/Song-At-Dawn-Jean-Gill/dp/1447796950/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354460573&sr=8-1&keywords=song+at+dawn