ShortBookandScribes #Extract from The Company of Heaven by Catherine Fox #BlogTour

It’s my stop on the blog tour for The Company of Heaven by Catherine Fox and I have an extract to share with you. The book is published by Marylebone House and is out now in paperback and ebook. My thanks to Emma Collins for the place on the tour.

2020 and sadly the Tales from Lindford came to an end, but the pandemic did not, and neither did the lives of our valiant Lindchester community. Return to Lindchester once more with The Company of Heaven, the fifth in the beloved series of novels from Catherine Fox.

Valiantly written in real time in the midst of the pandemic, this entertaining book captures the difficulties of 2021 with heart, humour and insight. Perfect for Lindchester fans, it’s also the ideal novel for anyone seeking comfort and a way of understanding all that has happened.

In The Company of Heaven, we re-join our Lindchester friends on Easter Monday 2021, just as the third lockdown in our Covid winter of discontent draws to a close. The new paschal candles have been lit. The endless snowy ghastliness of January, February, and March are behind us now.

Shake out your wings and fly once more across the Diocese of Lindfordshire, as we launch out on Pandemic, Part II. We will catch up with old friends and make new ones. Skeletons will tumble from cupboards, and not everyone will behave themselves as well as they ought (this is Lindchester after all).

A twenty-first century Barchester that fans of Barbara Pym and the BBC’s Rev will love, this new volume in the Lindchester Chronicles is contemporary Christian fiction at its finest. Sharp-eyed, witty and compassionate, Catherine Fox once again helps us make sense of real-life events and challenges, while weaving through a series of heart-stopping storylines. The Company of Heaven will make you laugh, cry and leave you with hope that grace can be found even in the darkest times.

This Easter Monday morning, Freddie is standing in the heavenly blue kitchen of his 1960s house. If we listen closely, we will hear the hens chook-chook-chooking in the garden. They’ve started laying again now that the days are lengthening. Alfie the golden labradoodle is on high alert. The bacon and eggs are cooking. The cinnamon buns are warming. The sourdough bread is toasting. Unlike Ellis, Freddie has not baked the bread himself, but he did get up early to do the carb run. The loaf and pastries are fresh from Lindford’s Mister Bun the Baker, a new business that has done rather well during the pandemic.

Prepare yourself for something you might not want to hear, dear reader. Freddie’s raggedy blond hair is now so long that he has taken to wearing it in a man bun. I know. I can’t leave my characters alone for three months without them getting into mischief. He’s also grown back the hipster beard he shaved off in 2016, after his mentor smirked in lofty derision. Freddie now resembles a smoking-hot Viking off to pillage a gay sauna (Neil’s verdict, not mine). Have no fear, Freddie is a reformed character. He has no such plans. (And in any case, saunas and other indoor venues won’t be open until 17 May.) Freddie is innocently doing lip-buzz exercises while he practises his juggling.

Hnn. Didn’t think that one through?

He ponders his exit strategy. It’s one thing to start juggling fresh eggs, quite another to stop without breakage of some kind. Fortunately, Ambrose has just come in.

‘Catch? Whoa! Awesome. Reflexes of a cat, my dude.’ Freddie sets the other two eggs down on the counter.

Ambrose stares at the egg he caught, as though it might hold a clue to why his husband is a nutter. Then he shrugs, and puts it with the others, before picking up a Sharpie and writing the date on this morning’s clutch.

You will want an update on Ambrose’s hair too, I daresay. It’s short and neat. He looks like the accountant he is, rather than a Viking – or worse, a member of the Shelby family. Chloe wielded the clippers this time round, thank goodness. In a moment, Chloe will come through from her little apartment in the extension and join them for breakfast. We will discover whether her long dark hair is still in its swishy ponytail, or if she’s decided she’s too old for that and has had it cut off in a stylish bob, or even a pixie cut. Can you bear the tension?

Enough with the hair, I hear you cry. What about the baby? Oh, very well.

We left this unorthodox household of three with their hopes of parenthood pinned on a faint blue line, a line that appeared rather wonderfully in the middle of the night of Christmas itself. O night divine! What happened next?

The road forks here, reader. Which direction shall I take? Baby, or no baby? The art of serializing a novel in instalments turns out to be rather like the art of living. With hindsight, we might wish we’d done it all differently; but there’s no going back and changing things. We make a decision and a course of action follows. All other options promptly fall away. From now on, we must travel along this road, not another. This is not The French Lieutenant’s Woman. If you want alternative endings to choose between, you’ll have to imagine them yourself.

Here we go.

Catherine Fox was educated at Durham and London Universities and has a degree in English and a PhD in Theology. She is the author of eight adult novels, Angels and Men, The Benefits of Passion, Love for the Lost, Acts and Omissions, Unseen Things Above, Realms of Glory, Tales from Lindford and The Company of Heaven, which explore the themes of the spiritual and the physical with insight and humour. In 2007, Yellow Jersey Press published Fight the Good Fight: From Vicar’s Wife to Killing Machine in which Catherine relates her quest to achieve a black belt in Judo. Her first teen fantasy novel, Wolf Tide, came out in 2013. She teaches at Manchester Metropolitan University and lives in Sheffield.

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