Monday, May 29, 2023

Have a sneak peek between the covers of Catherine Meyrick's fabulous novel — Cold Blows the Wind #HistoricalFiction #BlogTour @cameyrick1 @cathiedunn


Cold Blows the Wind

A story of love and resilience

by Catherine Meyrick

Publication Date: April 28th, 2022
Publisher: Courante Publishing
Pages: 425
Genre: Historical Fiction / Biographical Fiction / Women’s Fiction / Australian Fiction

Hobart Town 1878 – a vibrant town drawing people from every corner of the earth where, with confidence and a flair for storytelling, a person can be whoever he or she wants. Almost.

Ellen Thompson is young, vivacious and unmarried, with a six-month-old baby. Despite her fierce attachment to her family, boisterous and unashamed of their convict origins, Ellen dreams of marriage and disappearing into the ranks of the respectable. Then she meets Harry Woods.

Harry, newly arrived in Hobart Town from Western Australia, has come to help his aging father, ‘the Old Man of the Mountain’ who for more than twenty years has guided climbers on Mount Wellington. Harry sees in Ellen a chance to remake his life.

But, in Hobart Town, the past is never far away, never truly forgotten. When the past collides with Ellen’s dreams, she is forced to confront everything in life a woman fears most.

Based on a period in the lives of the author’s great-great-grandparents, Sarah Ellen Thompson and Henry Watkins Woods, Cold Blows the Wind is not a romance but it is a story of love – a mother’s love for her children, a woman’s love for her family and, those most troublesome loves of all, for the men in her life. It is a story of the enduring strength of the human spirit.

‘Harry, meet Bill and George Thompson.’ His father turned back to the two men. ‘My son, Harry Woods the younger.’

The elder man held out his hand. ‘Pleased to meet you, Harry the younger.’ He waved his hand towards the group of women. ‘And these are my lady and my daughters.’

Harry raised his hat to Mrs Thompson, a tiny woman shorter even than Grannie, who had joined the men. The three younger girls gave Harry a passing glance, more interested in the antics of the baby they had with them, a sturdy child of around six months, who was trying to stand on the youngest and pull her fringe. The baby fell back in her lap and began to cry. The woman Harry supposed was the child’s mother held out her arms and the youngest girl passed the baby to her. She seemed to be aware of Harry’s gaze and glanced across at him. She was pleasant looking, her face made for smiling. His stomach gave an unexpected lurch. He shook his head to clear it—she must be George Thompson’s wife.

Bill Thompson passed a flask around, Mrs Thompson and Grannie both making sure they got their share. Harry took a swig. He was hungry and would have preferred a cup of tea.

The young woman smiled at him. ‘Should you be having that on an empty stomach, Mr Woods?’ She stood, the child on her hip, and picked up a tin. ‘Here, have a sandwich.’ The scent of roses washed over him. He closed his eyes a moment. The memory of Eliza’s gentle violet perfume faded.

‘Thank you.’ He took a sandwich and sat on the bench by the door. At a loss for words, he bit into the sandwich: cheese and pickle. It disappeared in three bites—it had been a long time since breakfast.

‘Go on, have another.’ Mischief in her grey-blue eyes, she grinned as if she were flirting with him.

He glanced across at George who winked back. Harry’s eyes widened, unsure what was happening.

The baby started to wail. ‘Poor Billy is teething.’ The woman stuck her finger in the child’s mouth, rubbing his gums.

‘Don’t know much about babies,’ Harry said.

‘You have none yourself, Mr Woods?’

There had been no such blessing. ‘No, Mrs Thompson.’

‘No need to be formal. I’m Sarah Ellen but family call me Ellen, you can too.’

He wasn’t being drawn into this game. ‘Your husband might have something to say about that.’ He glanced at George again.

‘My husband? Oh, you mean George?’ Her laughter pealed around the clearing. ‘He’s my brother. No Billy’s father ran a mile when he heard Billy was on the way. Afraid Will, my other brother, would give him a right thumping. Bastard!’ She said the word under her breath.

Harry blinked. He had never heard a decent woman speak like that before. His pulse bounced surprisingly.

‘So where are you from, Mr Woods?’

Even when she wasn’t smiling, there was amusement in her eyes. Her skin was clear and unblemished, her lips perfect.

He realised he was sitting dumb, staring at her. Her chin had the slightest dimple.

‘I’m from Perth but born in Fremantle on the other side of the Swan River.’ He stopped. Why was he giving her his life story? ‘If I’m to call you Ellen, you should call me Harry.’ He smiled—he couldn’t stop himself.

‘Oh, I will.’ Her eyelashes fluttered lightly. ‘Are Mr and Mrs Woods from Perth too?’

‘My father was there from the start of settlement. Mrs Woods is his second wife, he met her here.’

The baby began grizzling again. Ellen looked down, rocking him in her arms. ‘My little darling needs a sleep.’

He watched her walk away towards her sisters—the straightness of her back, the tilt of her head, the sway of her hips.

Harry got up and helped himself to a cup of Grannie’s stewed tea and one of the scones set out on a plate. He had finished when a small party arrived wanting to be taken to the pinnacle.

As he moved off with them, Ellen gave Harry a dazzling smile. He grinned back, aware of his own ridiculousness—he suspected he was near old enough to be her father.

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Catherine Meyrick

Catherine Meyrick is an Australian writer of romantic historical fiction. She lives in Melbourne but grew up in Ballarat, a large regional city steeped in history. Until recently she worked as a customer service librarian at her local library. She has a Master of Arts in history and is also an obsessive genealogist. 

When she is not writing, reading and researching, Catherine enjoys gardening, the cinema and music of all sorts from early music and classical to folk and country & western. And, not least, taking photos of the family cat to post on Instagram.

Connect with Catherine:

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