I am happy to say that my latest ‘The Peterloo Affair’, is now out oon Amazon.com here
and Amazon.co.uk here
I wrote this tale primarily as a love story – in fact, it can be categorised as a romance – largely because I thought that with the grim background story, some pleasant diversion and a bit of humour was really needed.
I hope readers like Joan Wright and Seàn McGilroy as much as they – generally – liked Sophie de Courcy and Émile Dubois, Natalie NIcholson and Alex Sager, Isabella Murray and Reynaud Ravensdale and Clarinda Greendale and Harley Venn.
Their love story is set against a background of poverty and injustice, and some of the background research I had to do for this was pretty distressing. Sometimes, the injustice of the treatment of victims, the dishonesty of the cover up, made me outraged. But, the working people of the UK won the right to vote and to protest in the end., and the story ends on a note of optimism. I also enjoyed putting touches of humour in it.
Here’s an extract:
There was a jeering laugh from behind them. Seán McGilroy, himself stood at the edge of the plot, glowering at Timothy. His blue eyes were flashing, and with his arrogant stance, and his black ringlets, Joan thought he looked like as fierce as a picture of a pirate she had seen in a chap book, minus the cutlass, of course.
“I heard that, Yorke. It seems to me, you and I need a little talk. Doesn’t do to dispute before t’lasses, and all that, so if you’d care to come along.” He nodded to the lane by the distant plots abutting the meadow. Then he turned a warm smile on Joan. “I hope you’ll wait on me, Miss Joan.”
Timothy looked ready to explode. “They say eavesdroppers never hear good of themselves, and least of all a ne’er do well. You’re for a mill, McGilroy, but I don’t hold with such loutish ways.”
“I’m only for a brawl if you’re up for it.” McGilroy’s looked so fierce Joan skipped in between them.
“Don’t go into it now. Do as folks say, and wait on it for a day. You’re both acting daft, and like to harm each other. That’s no good now, when we must all stand together.”
McGilroy said, “What I’ve got to say can’t be heard by any but Yorke himself, till I find out the truth of it.”
Timothy’s face was too highly coloured for his face to redden, but he scowled and breathed hard. “You’ve heard some mean gossip from those who hold it against our family that we’re not in rags and starving, and who make up wild stories out of envy. And I’ll say outright in front of Joan: I see you’ve an eye for her, among others. A girl like Joan is too good for a roving good-for-nothing who’s got a name as a light o’ love besides to come and trifle with. How your Ridley cousins behave is their parents’ affair.”
Now McGilroy’s dark face was flushed with anger and it showed as it didn’t on Timothy’s. “Some of the tattle you’ve been hearkening to is in the right of it. I have lived wild and reckless, and got myself into a deal of trouble and all, and never could settle since coming back from the wars. Maybe I could change if I found something to keep me rooted, but I’m not talking on that before you, or aught else that matters.”
An aloof bit of Joan’s mind noted his use of ‘rooted’ as wholly fitting, when they were standing in a vegetable patch, and she had earth on her hands and teasing grit under her nails.
“You’re an insolent ruffian.” On the other side of Joan, Timothy Yorke drew back from McGilroy, as from a filthy dog ready to spring on him.
Joan broke in. “I don’t like lads scrapping over who is to talk to me like dogs over a bone, just as if I’ve no ideas of my own.”
She put on a haughty air, and again this was like one of Nancy’s books, though those heroines did it in grand drawing rooms. “If either of you has owt to say to me, you can say it another time.”
McGilroy smiled at her, as if delighted. “You’re in the right of it, Miss Joan. Let me do the digging for you.” He took the wobbly spade from her grasp with a gentle twitch.
Timothy looked ready to burst with fury. “Yes, you’re in the right there, Joan, and if this fellow leaves quietly, so shall I.”
McGilroy didn’t take kindly to being called, ‘that fellow’. He clenched his fists, his eyes glinting. Joan saw no way of stopping a fight, and from what she’d heard of McGilroy going in for fighting at fairs and so, Timothy must certainly lose. She didn’t want him hurt, trying though he was.
Suddenly, Tmothy’s younger brother, Jem, was with them. A weedy youth of maybe sixteen, he seemed as ill at ease in the world as Timothy was sure of his rights in it. His nervous look scanned Timothy to Seán McGilroy, to Joan and back again. “You’re wanted at home.”
Something about his nervous look seemed to decide Timothy at once. “I’m coming.” Ignoring McGilroy, he turned to Joan. “If you’re done here, walk along of us.”
“I’ve found nothing yet,” Joan said indignantly. What does he think I wanted in the vegetable plot—him?
Timothy stood staring, but his young brother jerked out, more insistently, “Mam needs you.” Timothy had no choice but to go with the boy. Then, as they turned onto the footpath, he said loudly, “It’s fitting that Irish fellow is set to scrabble after potatoes as eager as a terrier after rats. That’s all they live on, after all, and they bed down with their pigs.”
McGilroy shouted after him, “Rats, eh? I could talk about rats, I’m thinking, such as your tale bearing friends.”
Timothy jerked, as if hit by a pebble, but he walked on with his brother. Joan heard them muttering to each other as they moved off, and now she thought she caught distant sounds of raised voices. Some dispute was going on nearby, with a number of people at it.