#BlogTour – #Extract from #ASummerattheCastle by Kate Lord Brown @katelordbrown @orionbooks

I’m delighted to welcome you today to my stop on the blog tour for gorgeous summer read A Summer at the Castle by Kate Lord Brown. Thank you to the author and Orion Books for giving me the opportunity to share an extract from this lovely book with you today.

About the book:

40542D3E-33C9-4A7F-B90A-4ECB16374F69

Scandal, secrets and strawberries.
A recipe for disaster…

Every summer, Diana Hughes organises a famous baking competition at her beautiful castle in the south west of Ireland, to raise funds for its upkeep. But this year, amongst the bunting and scrumptious cakes, everything is turning out a little differently than planned!

First, her daughter Darcy arrives on the doorstep unexpectedly, after running away to the sunny hills of California with a broken heart a year ago. Then a mysterious stranger tries to sabotage the competition. Diana and Darcy soon find out that the past is quickly catching up with them – and it’s about to turn their lives upside down!…

About the author:

9FE90784-B170-41D2-A662-E2C4CA342971

If you like stories which bring to life forgotten history and weave together amazing true events with page turning fiction you’ve come to the right place. I’m always looking for the ‘diamond in the dust heap’ as Woolf put it – those irresistible events which make you think: why does nobody know about this?

Like most writers, I’ve always loved reading. In fact my earliest memory is reading a Ladybird book in a wildflower meadow, wearing a pair of red shoes. I’ve always written since I was a child – diaries, plays for toys and I was roped in to write love letters on the school bus for friends to give their boyfriends, which may well be why I ended up writing hist fic with a strong romantic element. Later on I joined a writers’ group in London which used to meet in the basement of Nomad travel bookstore once a week, and I began writing my first novel. I used to get up an hour before work and type away in the corridor of our studio flat with my keyboard balanced on my husband’s sock drawer.

Wherever we have travelled our books have come too, and after twenty three moves around the world I’ve finally unpacked them in a library in the old Georgian house we’ve just restored. I love the research for each book, and they all have elements I most enjoy reading about myself – family secrets, real historical figures making cameos, beautiful houses, amazing locations and the fight for love.

Every book starts with a question, and writing the story is a way of answering that. Each story also has at its heart something I love, whether that’s travel, or photography, or perfume. I’ve written about the girls who flew Spitfires, the little known ‘artist’s Schindler’ in the south of France, and the women who fought and reported the Spanish Civil War. Historical fiction is like time travel and I love how it lets you see how people made sense of their lives in difficult times.

Writing is part of life. I’ve always written with children and animals coming and going, and I like Stephen King’s advice to stick your desk in the corner of the room and just get on with it. I’ve never bought in to that old idea that the ‘pram in the hall’ is the enemy of writing. I’ve worked, and raised a family, and have just finished my ninth novel, spending the summer editing on the beaches of Devon’s Atlantic coast while my children surfed. Thanks to you all, nine books on I’ve gone from writing on a sock drawer to being an international bestseller, and I am really grateful for that.

Writing is a conversation – when you finish writing a story it belongs to the reader. What I hope is that when you reach the last page you feel this is a beginning, not an end, that these characters will live on in your imagination and you might find yourself wondering what they are going to do next.

Now these stories are yours, and I’d love to hear what you think. You can find me on social media or at http://www.katelordbrown.com

Happy reading –

Kate

Kate Lord Brown:

The new novel is a twin-timeline with a historical thread set in swinging London, 1969. This is one of my favourite scenes in the book where Colleen, a lovely, anxious young girl facing a dark, abusive marriage, has a moment of pure happiness meeting her hero, the famous cook and writer Elizabeth David. I loved researching David’s shop in Chelsea, and I hope I’ve conjured up how ahead of its time and magical it was …

Extract:

Colleen stumbled, the heel of her patent shoe slipping on the greasy pavement outside Sloane Square Tube. She was pushing a heavy Silver Cross pram, her daughter’s face puce with rage beneath her thick thatch of black hair, fists balled in fury, gripping the blanket which Colleen had dutifully spent the winter nights crocheting.

‘Shh, shh . . .’ Colleen soothed her, her own heart still racing from the journey, the silent disapproval of the commuters which cloaked her like fog. Her legs, her arms shook from exhaustion, sweat stuck her fringe to her brow beneath her grey cloche hat. She envied the carefree, leggy Chelsea girls walking past in their mini dresses. But Timothy would never allow that. She tried not to look at the baby, hoped the walk would settle her. Two middle-aged women talking on the corner of the street stared as Colleen hurried by, their disapproving glances piercing her like arrows. A screw of anxiety tightened in her stomach. I’m doing my best, she thought. She just won’t stop. The baby’s breath caught, choking on an angry sob, and Colleen stopped to check her. The child hit out at her, arms and body rigid. The image of her father, she thought. The spitting image.

Colleen leant down on the pram handle, pushing on along Holbein Place. She felt the weight of her handbag, the book inside, swinging against her wrist. She cut along Graham Terrace, and paused on the opposite side of Bourne Street from the shop at number 46, catching her breath, enjoying the window display. Hand-forged, gold-painted letters spelling ‘Elizabeth David Ltd’, gleamed over an arrangement of kitchen equipment which seemed to float effortlessly in mid-air. Colleen wheeled the pram across the road.

‘Are you coming in?’ A tall, elegant woman paused at the door of the shop. She tucked a linen tea towel over the contents of the wicker basket slung across her arm. Her voice was feline, breathy.

‘Thank you.’ Colleen blushed. ‘Pardon me, but are you Mrs David?’

‘Yes. How do you do? Afraid there’s not much room for that.’ Elizabeth David raised an eyebrow, looking down at the pram. ‘You can leave it out here.’

‘Are you sure?’

‘I’ll ask one of the girls to keep an eye on it – him? Her?’ She winced as the child began to scream. ‘Dear me. How do you put up with it?’ She pushed open the plate glass door.

‘I don’t. I – I’m not a very good mother.’ Colleen clutched the handle of her handbag, relaxing only as the door swung to, drowning out the noise of the baby. ‘I can’t help thinking it was a terrible mistake—’ She felt like she was talking too much, and Mrs David’s polite smile only confirmed that.

‘Well. How may we help you?’

‘I need a new cast iron casserole. My old one . . .’ Colleen pulled down the sleeve of her coat. ‘I . . . I had an accident.’

‘Happens to the best cooks. You won’t regret it. Have you seen the new blue?’

‘Oh, they’re lovely.’ The colour shone with promise. Colleen picked up a heavy oval dish. All of it – Mrs David’s effortless poise, the solid goodness of the shop, the rightness of the things in it seemed distilled in the deep blue Le Creuset pan. It was all Colleen wanted in life, all she longed for. Order. Colour. Weight. She checked the price. ‘I’ll take it.’

Elizabeth gestured to one of the girls to wrap the dish. ‘Will you be all right carrying it?’

‘I can put it under the pram.’ She clicked open her handbag and lifted out a large manila envelope, holding it towards Mrs David. ‘I – I hope you don’t mind, I wondered if you would be kind enough to sign this bookfor me.’

‘Of course. Do you have a pen?’ Elizabeth raised an eyebrow.

‘I’ve read it so many times,’ Colleen said, searching in her bag. ‘I’ve cooked almost all the recipes.’

‘Really?’ She regarded her coolly. ‘What’s your favourite?’

Colleen’s face lit up. ‘It’s probably a bit simple, but I love the spaghetti all aglio e olio. My husband can’t stand the garlic, but I love it.’

‘He doesn’t know what he’s missing. The Neapolitans adore it and so do I. In fact, every decent professional cook I know eats it as a staple when they are cooking for themselves.’ Elizabeth watched her with feline eyes, and nodded. It was as if Colleen had passed a test.

‘I’m sorry,’ Colleen said, her blush intensifying. ‘I don’t have a pen.’

‘Very well.’ Elizabeth picked up the basket from the counter and headed to the stairs. When Colleen didn’t follow she paused. ‘If you’d like me to sign your book, come on down.’

Colleen glanced at the pram, and followed. The shop was beautiful to her. Every item seemed to ring true. There was a simplicity and elegance to the design that resonated with her – the black and white tiles, the calm grey blue of the walls. She thought of Dr Smith’s dingy, cramped kitchen in Battersea with its single ring hob and wished she could live somewhere with the order, the peace of these marble shelves with their stacks of white china. Somewhere clean, and light, and safe.

Elizabeth swung the basket on to the marble-topped table and began to unpack a greaseproof wrap of pâté, a fresh loaf and a thick slab of butter. ‘Pass me that earthenware bowl, would you?’ she said, gesturing at a pile of plates at the end of the table. Colleen reached over and handed it to her, and Elizabeth tumbled a paper bag of bright radishes into the bowl. Elizabeth cupped it in her hands and breathed in, her eyes closed. ‘The most divine smell, so fresh.’ Colleen watched, dumb with nerves, as people came and went around the table, stopping to chat to Elizabeth, to scoop up a hunk of bread and some olives for lunch, to pour a glass of wine. She envied their ease. She wanted desperately to belong in a place like this. Elizabeth waved the bottle of wine. ‘Can I tempt you with a glass of Flaming Carthage, my dear? I must say, you look like you could do with one.’

‘I don’t . . . thank you.’ Colleen took the tumbler of wine offered to her.

‘Not Asher Storey’s finest, but it does for lunch.’ Elizabeth rummaged on the table and found a pen. ‘Now, let’s inscribe this book for you.’

‘Thank you.’ Colleen slipped the book out of the envelope, and offered it across.

Elizabeth caught sight of the bruises, the burn on Colleen’s wrist, and Colleen quickly covered the livid red scar. ‘It was an accident,’ she said.

‘It always is,’ Elizabeth said quietly, raising her gaze to Colleen.

‘I’m sorry, Mrs David,’ one of the girls called from the stairs. ‘That child is screaming blue murder. There’s a crowd gathering.’

‘I must go,’ Colleen said.

‘Who shall I dedicate this to?’ Elizabeth said.

‘Coll—’ she began, and paused. ‘No. No name. If you wouldn’t mind just signing it?’

‘Of course.’ Elizabeth David wrote her name on the frontispiece with a flourish, and handed the dog-eared copy of Italian Food to her. ‘Well used, I see?’

‘It was my mother’s,’ Colleen said, smoothing her hand over the ripped and stained dust jacket. The illustration of artichokes, a flask of wine, backed by a blue, blue sea and warm sunset promised so much – a sense of feeling alive again. She glanced up at Mrs David, the woman who was everything she wanted to be – confident, elegant, reserved. Colleen wished she could be just like her. ‘She loved it, and so do I.’

‘I’m glad to hear it,’ Elizabeth said. ‘Enjoy your cooking.’

End of extract

A SUMMER AT THE CASTLE is out now

Baking, romance and thrills – what more could anyone ask for?’ My Weekly

Scandal, secrets and strawberries.
A recipe for disaster…

Every summer, Diana Hughes organises a famous baking competition at her beautiful castle in the south west of Ireland, to raise funds for its upkeep. But this year, amongst the bunting and scrumptious cakes, everything is turning out a little differently than planned!

Bookshop.org https://uk.bookshop.org/books/a-summer-at-the-castle/9781398704343

Waterstones https://www.waterstones.com/book/a-summer-at-the-castle/kate-lord-brown/9781398704343

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Summer-Castle-Kate-Lord-Brown/dp/1398704342/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

Find out more at http://www.katelordbrown.com

Follow @katelordbrown Insta and Twitter

A Summer at the Castle is available to purchase now.

Check out what these other lovely bloggers have to say about this book:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s