THE BLUE PENDANT – A historical novel and love story that spans an ocean from Britain to Canada.
Here’s a sneak preview of the cover. The official launch will take place in Ottawa during the first week of December. Details to follow.
The Blue Pendant will be available in print and e-book format from all book retailers worldwide at the beginning of December. If you would like to pre-order please go to Susan’s contact page
READ AN EXCERPT TODAY!
The Blue Pendant – Excerpt from Chapter One: Anna has arrived at the staff entrance of The Sackville Hotel, Carter is taking her to meet her peers, the hotel staff………..
…………..Carter’s change in tone, kind but firm, perplexed her. She was proud of her Uncle Bertie’s association with Mr. Pickles, and her position was superior. She mused, was that bragging? She had the feeling Carter was giving her a warning.
Entering through the back door, Carter led her through a warren of passageways; Anna felt akin to Alice in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The hot, damp, smell of wet linen mixed with soap and carbolic, filled the hallway, followed by an unexpected hint of lavender and rose-water wafting from an open door. Steam swirled around a young maid as she ironed. Anna gave a shudder—a memory better forgotten. The quietness and lack of people felt odd. As if Carter had anticipated her query, he said, “It’s tea time. They’s in the staff dining hall.”
The laundry smell faded and the pleasant aromas of roasting meat, onions and some kind of baking filled Anna’s nostrils, making her aware that she hadn’t eaten since an early breakfast. Approaching a door opposite the kitchen she heard a man’s harsh voice, she felt herself recoil as Carter opened the door. The voice stopped mid-sentence and all heads turned to look at Anna. Stricken by reality, she wanted to run, but her feet were glued to the floor, it was impossible to move either way.
An enormous wooden table surrounded by dozens of chairs, most of them occupied, filled the room. A china cup being placed on its saucer broke the silence, and someone reached for a slice of cake.
Carter spoke first. “This is Miss Anna Neale, our new clerk.”
The owner of the harsh voice, an older gentleman, tall with pointed features, shifty eyes and thin grey hair, immaculately dressed in black tails, striped waistcoat and white shirt, stood at the head of the table.
“Welcome to The Sackville Hotel, Miss Neale. I’m Mr. Pickles, General Manager. Once you are settled you will be reporting to me in the front office.”
The silence in the room drummed in her ears as she forced a reply, “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Pickles.” She bobbed a curtsy. Hearing a maid giggle, she blushed, deducing the curtsy inappropriate. Mr. Pickles’ icy glare sent ripples down her back. Then he introduced Mrs. Banks, nodded dismissively to the staff, and left the room.
Mrs. Banks had the look of a cross school teacher but the crossness softened in her brown eyes. Her salt and pepper grey-brown hair pulled into a too tight chignon, gave her face a ‘surprised’ look. She wore a neat brown dress trimmed with a white lace collar, a large ring of keys jangled at her waist.
“You must be tired after your long journey. Come sit.” She pointed to the chair next to her. “Miss Romano, please pour Miss Neale a cup of tea while I introduce you all.”
Anna declined to sit. Instead of feeling proud in her posh new travelling suit she felt self-conscious and quite aware of the inappropriateness of her attire in the staff dining hall. The brim of her hat, too wide to fit between the chairs, would likely poke Mrs. Banks or Miss Romano in the face.
“Miss Sophie Romano is our senior housemaid and you will be sharing a room with her.” Obviously Mrs. Banks considered sharing with Miss Romano, the senior maid, was a privilege but not to Miss Romano. Her eyes bored into Anna with contempt. Anna, expecting her own room, considered the contempt to be mutual.
Starting with the scullery maid, Mrs. Banks introduced the staff. Anna nodded at each introduction. The names and positions were becoming muddled, she was feeling light-headed; chambermaids, scullery maids, laundress’ kitchen maids, as well as porters, cooks and kitchen staff, even a stable hand. Mrs. Banks’s words merged together, her mouth moved in slow motion; muffled sounds surrounded Anna. She felt the blood ebbing from her head. Mrs. Bank’s arms guided her into the chair, pushing her head towards her knees saying, “Miss Neale, keep your head down.”
A sharp pain shot into Anna’s head. Her hat caught on the table and pushed the hatpin into her scalp. Mortified, this was not the first impression she had intended.
“How long is it since you ate?” Mrs. Banks asked.
“I had breakfast before I left home,” Anna kept her head down, unable to face the inquisitive stares.
“Silly child! No wonder you’re faint.” Mrs. Banks stirred two spoons of sugar into the tea. “Miss Neale, sit up slowly and sip some of this tea.”
Anna raised her head trying to smile. “I must look a sight,” embarrassed, colour flooded into her pale face. She pulled the long pin from the hat and took the hat off handing it to Mrs. Banks, who gave it an admiring browse before placing it on the Welsh dresser.
A nice looking young gentleman, with blondish hair and haunting aqua-blue eyes, wearing a white chef’s coat, handed her a piece of cake. “The best Victoria Sponge you’ll ever taste this side of London,” he said with a friendly smile. “I made it myself this morning.”
“Thank you…um…” Anna looked up, frantically trying to recall his name.
This month November Free short story: Gillian’s Ghostly Dilemma by Susan A. Jennings Killed in a car crash, that was no accident Gillian knows who murdered her. She floats between this world and the next as she desperately tries to tell her husband and son before she runs out of time.
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I am honoured to be an advance reader of The Blue Pendant. There simply isn’t room to say all the positive things I’d like to say. It’s a book filled with details of this historical period. From the clothing to the attitudes to the well-defined social classes. Quickly, the Great War becomes the ominous backdrop that influences so much. This book doesn’t lag for one second. Susan has done a brilliant job with her first novel, beginning with the shy young Anna on a railway platform. I feel disappointment is an impossibility.
Thank you so much for the wonderful comments about my book. My smile is as wide as the Cheshire Ca grin. Thank you