#extract – A Pearl for My Mistress by Annabel Fielding @DearestAnnabel #HistoricalFiction
I’m very pleased today to be sharing an extract from Annabel Fielding’s debut novel, A Pearl for My Mistress. First let’s see what the book is about:
England, 1934. Hester Blake, an ambitious girl from an industrial Northern town, finds a job as a lady’s maid in a small aristocratic household.
Despite their impressive title and glorious past, the Fitzmartins are crumbling under the pressures of the new century. And in the cold isolation of these new surroundings, Hester ends up hopelessly besotted with her young mistress, Lady Lucy.
Accompanying Lucy on her London Season, Hester is plunged into a heady and decadent world. But hushed whispers of another war swirl beneath the capital… and soon, Hester finds herself the keeper of some of society’s most dangerous secrets…
The bells of peace had tolled almost two decades ago, but the city still bore the marks – some of them more visible than others. The celebrated mediums, who promised to converse with the client’s dead son or brother for a little fee, were as popular as ever. Thousands of séance circles had sprung up all over the capital, new ones forming every year. Even the most innocent pastimes now glared with bloody paw prints; Michelin, for instance, published a guidebook, dedicated to the battlefields of France.
The majestic sphinx on the Embankment also bore the memory – its paws and pedestal remained forever scarred by the German bomb. Lucy remembered looking at these marks, nondescript and pale.
She thought at that moment, a sudden fear dimming the sunlight: if that bomb could shatter stone, which had survived the fall of ancient civilizations, then what would it do to human flesh?
Never before had she felt so conscious of her own body, her own fragility. A thin layer of skin over fine bones. It could be ripped open so easily, destroyed and twisted in the calamity of red.
And so could many, many others.
She spent that afternoon gripping Hester’s hand.
Hester. Lucy always felt a touch of tenderness whenever the name crossed her mind. It was as if someone had wrapped her heart in velvet.
Lucy never knew she carried such desire within her chest before this Pandora’s box was pried open by Hester’s careful fingers. The hunger opened in her, like a ravenous maw. The hunger made her fingers tremble.
The hunger will be your undoing one day.
No, no, no. Her lover was just as cautious as she was; what was there to fear?
She wished for nothing more than to bring her two passions together, to mend this unpleasant divide.
Her dear love, her Moorish girl. How Lucy longed to have her by her side. How she longed to introduce her to all the brilliant essays and splendid thoughts she had discovered during the past year. How she looked forward to the discussions they would have, the conversations that would burn night hours away.
She loved her so. She loved her so. She desperately wanted her to see the truth.
Lucy stretched her hands and threw another glance at the clock. Yes, she’d had more than enough rest. Now was the time to get back to her assignment.
Lucy could remember lying on the floor of a very different library, her head aching, her lips bloody. She was unable to breathe in, as if bitterness and helplessness stuffed her lungs. She couldn’t speak either, as she found out later – her lip was too bruised. She could only sob with ugly, disgusting sounds, which made them call her hysterical.
They’d wanted to shut her up back then. They’d achieved their objective, at least for a while. Making her bloody and aching in the process was a sad but acceptable price to them.
Well, no one would shut her up now. She wasn’t a feeble child any more, subjected to everyone, dependent on everyone’s goodwill and blamed for it afterwards. She was a grown woman, with a name, and connections, and a platform to speak from. If someone wanted to shut her up, they would have to slit her throat.
The sound of the typewriter, as she started on the next paragraph, had something of a machine gun to it.’
So if you like the sound of A Pearl for My Mistress then here are the buy links you need:
Annabel Fielding, having graduated from the University of Arts London with an MA in Public Relations, is a PR assistant by day and a novelist by night. Being a self-professed history geek, she dedicates her free time to obscure biographies, solo travel and tea. She also posts a mix of book reviews and travel photos on her blog, History Geek in Town.