Spotlight: Beneath Black Clouds and White by Virginia Crow
Today, I'm delighted to share a spotlight for Beneath Black Clouds and White by Virginia Crow as poart of her book tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club. It sounds like an intriguing read, especially as it's linked to the French revolution.
So sit back and enjoy the teaser!
Beneath Black Clouds and White
Historical Fiction/Military Fiction/Family Saga
Despite adoring his family and enjoying frequenting gaming tables, Captain Josiah Tenterchilt’s true love is the British Army and he is committed to his duty. As such, he does not hesitate to answer the army’s call when King Louis XVI of France is executed.
Accompanied by his wife to Flanders, Josiah finds his path crosses with a man who could not be more different from him: an apprentice surgeon named Henry Fotherby. As these two men pursue their own actions, fate and the careful connivance of a mysterious individual will push them together for the rest of their lives.
But it is a tumultuous time, and the French revolutionaries are not the only ones who pose a threat. The two gentlemen must find their place in a world where the constraints of social class are inescapable, and ‘slavery or abolition’ are the words on everyone’s lips.
Beneath Black Clouds and White is the prequel to Day's Dying Glory, which was published by Crowvus in April 2017.
They parted then, Fotherby trudging back to the hospital and Portland to his lodgings. The army had successfully found houses for the officers or rooms in hotels, but the rank and file were still abandoned to the makeshift tents. These let in the wind, which bit as deep as any bayonet and killed as successfully as shot. Fotherby had resorted to sleeping in the hospital. Peters had a room in one of the buildings nearby but his two lieutenants did not merit such a luxury.
“Where have you been, Fotherby, you idler?” Peters demanded as the younger surgeon walked in.
“What is it, sir?”
“Talking with that renegade, no doubt,” he continued, answering his own question. “Three more men with digits falling from their hands and feet, and you spend your time negotiating the downfall of parliament and decrying the king. Remember who funds you, Fotherby.” He drank heavily from his flask before offering it to his lieutenant who graciously declined.
“Sir,” Fotherby whispered, “all I discuss with Captain Portland are the same topics that I would discuss with any gentleman, and I assure you he speaks well of both the king and the Prime Minister.”
“Yes, I can see he would.”
“I do not understand what rebellion you believe he is capable of.”
Peters turned to him at this remark and rose to his feet. For a time he did not say anything but simply looked at his lieutenant critically so that, despite towering over the captain, Fotherby felt no taller than a child. Peters drank once more from the flask, never taking his gaze from the man before him.
“Talk to your friend of his father.”
“His father is dead, sir. And is it fair to condemn a man for the deeds of his father?”
“It is not his father’s deeds I condemn, it is his principles. Your father handed his principles to you, did he not?”
“You inherited this ridiculous notion that you should abstain from alcohol, but in doing so you injure only yourself. His father caused turmoil to the very fabric of society. His principles, and those now of the new Lord Barrington, stand counter to others of the House of Lords and better resemble the views of a peasant. I tell you, Fotherby, for I wish you to prosper in your future. Pitt offends the Lords with some of his disestablishment ideas and it would not surprise me at all to learn that your young friend shared the Prime Minister’s lesser ideals.”
Fotherby took in each of his captain’s words and tried to understand what gave the man before him permission to talk so of the Prime Minister when he so strongly objected to the attitude of Captain Portland. But Lieutenant Fotherby was a patient and thoughtful man and maintained his own counsel. He watched as Peters snatched his coat tightly about him and walked out of the tent.
The cold air outside the tent battered the canvas, and Fotherby sat for a time, pulling two woollen blankets about him as he tried once more to comprehend the resentment that his officer had towards his friend. These thoughts confused him into his sleepless night and through the days beyond. Christmas came and went with no comfort or celebration, as the French continued to push the British forces so far back that they were almost in the ocean. Gradually the forces of King George, now totally abandoned by the Austrians and the Prussians, were shipped back to England during the first three months of 1795. It was at the end of January when Fotherby next encountered his friend.
There had been a week of snow, failing to settle yet churning the muddy ground so that the entrance to the hospital tent was brown and slippery. The hospital had been used increasingly by any of the men who could contrive a reason to visit, for it was the warmest place in the camp. Captain Portland skidded into the tent and pulled the tent flap closed. Some forty men were crammed inside, giving a feverish warmth to Portland as he stepped in. Peters looked across at his entrance with a poorly disguised expression of distaste. If Captain Portland was at all upset or even noticed Peters’ disdain, he did not show it but, having looked about him and failed to find his friend, he smiled briefly across at the surgeon.
“Portland,” Peters shouted across and, as the younger man turned, he beckoned him forward.
“Sir?” Portland asked uncertainly.
“I wish to talk with you. Have you time?”
Portland nodded, but it did not matter for Peters had turned from him and was walking back to his campaign desk. He ignored the other man until he pulled out the chair and pointed at it, waiting for Portland to sit down, and Peters leaned back on the desk to study him.
“What is it, sir?” Portland asked after a time, feeling conspicuous in the man’s study of him. “I assure you I did not come here to seek your attention. I am quite well.”
“I know why you came.”
“Then, what is it, sir?”
“You must follow your course as you see fit, Captain Portland.”
Portland bowed his head in an agreement but did not offer any words.
“But your views are your own, sir, and you would do well to ensure that they stay so.” Peters folded his arms across his chest and stared vehemently at the man before him who pursed his lips in an expression of defiance. “I knew your father, you know? And your uncle.”
“No, sir,” Portland whispered. “I did not know.”
“It was wrong, what your grandfather did. It was not his place to dismiss tradition in favour of ridiculous notions.”
“Nor is it yours, Captain Peters.”
“I respected your father, but it was no surprise that with your grandfather’s death your father could not survive long. I was, however, sorry to hear of his death, whatever our disagreements.”
“Am I to find some comfort in your words?” Portland demanded. “You did not wish to talk to me so that you could insult both my father and my grandfather, surely? No,” he continued, and smiled wryly. “You object to their legacy as it lives on in me. And you object to the fact that your lieutenant has found friendship with me.”
Peters silently watched Portland for a time once more, only moving to take a drink from his flask. “I am concerned about Lieutenant Fotherby, it is true. I have endeavoured on too many occasions to reason with him concerning the position that an alliance with you might place him in. But he has a patient counterargument to any issue I raise. I want him to become the captain of this tent when I am forced out of it, but Horse Guards will not allow him any advancement if he is associated with a cause such as yours.”
“Do not be a fool, boy,” Peters spat back. “You and I both know that Horse Guards is run by the Lords.”
“Not all the lords are against us,” Portland began. “But you need have no fear with regard to Lieutenant Fotherby, for I came seeking him only to tell him that tomorrow I am to return to England. Perhaps you will make my farewell to him.” He rose to his feet and glared into the face of the man who had just insulted three generations of his family. “I have never spoken of my political and personal beliefs to your lieutenant and you may rest your mind in that knowledge. I respect Mr Fotherby far too greatly to try and sway his opinion. That seems a greater compliment than you are willing to afford him.”
Such a defamation did not seem to offend or concern Peters, who only watched as Portland exited the tent. By contrast, Portland felt hurt and anger swell within him as he walked out into the flurries of snow. There was a faint beam of sunlight struggling through the snow clouds over the west and it was towards this glimmer of light that he marched.
About the Author:
Virginia grew up in Orkney, using the breath-taking scenery to fuel her imagination and the writing fire within her. Her favourite genres to write are fantasy and historical fiction, sometimes mixing the two together such as her newly-published book "Caledon". She enjoys swashbuckling stories such as the Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas and is still waiting for a screen adaption that lives up to the book!
When she's not writing, Virginia is usually to be found teaching music, and obtained her MLitt in "History of the Highlands and Islands" last year. She believes wholeheartedly in the power of music, especially as a tool of inspiration. She also helps out with the John O'Groats Book Festival which is celebrating its 3rd year this April.
She now lives in the far flung corner of Scotland, soaking in inspiration from the rugged cliffs and miles of sandy beaches. She loves cheese, music and films, but hates mushrooms.
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