Part II. Non-spoiler excerpts. Launching date: 5 October 2018
How much does love cost?
An Unfamiliar Kindness asks this unanswerable question.
Mistaking gratitude for love comes at a price.
In 1971, Oxford student Emilee Stephens marches with the just-formed Women’s Liberation Movement. She meets Connor O’Hannigan, an intriguing sympathizer who harbors more secrets than the reason he’s at the march.
Despite her friends’ repeated warnings—and even hints that he may be in the IRA—Emilee falls for Connor when he saves her life in a kayaking accident.
The two marry and have a daughter, Caitlynn Aine. On the child’s third birthday, daughter and father disappear, leaving only an abandoned car and a small red jacket behind.
Decades pass—until Emilee receives a letter from her presumed-dead former husband.
Indeed: How much does love cost?
An Unfamiliar Kindness is 20th-century historical fiction and uses the 1970s Women’s Liberation Movement which kicked off in London and The Troubles in Northern Ireland during the same period as a backdrop.
Here’s a taste from the first chapter. (Following the Prologue the story takes a thirty-one-year leap back to 1969 . . .)
The RMS Windsor Castle. Cape Town, South Africa. 7 December 1969.
Emilee tightened her iron-grip on her friend’s hand and elbowed their path open to a spot next to the railing, apologizing as they went. She bestowed a sweet smile on everyone who frowned on their uncivil pushing to get to where they could have an unobstructed view of the dock far beneath. She was determined to make visual contact with her family before their ship sailed. Taken aback by their boldness, young and old, male and female, found it impossible not to take a step back to allow the two girls thoroughfare.
Caroline Washington had little control over her blushing, which only intensified as they approached the railing. She loved her friend but was equally exasperated by her forwardness. Her free arm was engaged in keeping herself decent as she smoothed and held down the hem of her summer dress that took flight in the breeze. Wearing the miniskirt dresses was Emilee’s idea. “Something cool and complimentary for our departure,” she had said.
Still attached to Emilee’s hand, she whispered, “That was so embarrassing.”
Emilee only laughed. “No, it wasn’t. There they are!” She pointed at her parents, brothers, and Caroline’s family, who stood huddled together on A-berth, waiting on the two girls to appear.
Emilee took a step back from the railing as the subtle stench of spilled sewage, salt water, dead fish, and ship’s oil shot up at them. Far below, gentle waves washed against the steel hull.
Their families heard them calling and answered their beckoning. Everyone waved. The moment they had dreaded and dreamed about had arrived.
The wave of hands intensified. Some waved with handkerchiefs, shouting endearments as the PA system behind the girls warned, “The ship is sailing.” The horn sounded. Dockworkers called in warning. Seagulls screeched excitedly as they dipped toward the water.
As the horn sounded a second time, the screws started turning. The bow—in no apparent hurry—righted in the direction of the open sea. Later, it would point at Southampton. The people on the wharf-side grew smaller, the separation taking place in slow motion until they were beyond hearing distance. Neither party had the heart to cease waving, not even when infinite specks were all that remained of them. Emilee clung to her handkerchief, waving, refusing to concede.
One by one the passengers left the railing in search of their cabins, but the two friends held fast, unwilling to say their final goodbyes. Wrapped in its cloud-blanket, Table Mountain towered behind Cape Town as the RMS Windsor Castle left port.
Emilee squeezed her friend’s hand, leaned against her, and whispered a last goodbye to Cape Town and good old Africa. Caroline repeated the farewell and wrapped her arms around her friend’s slim shoulders to slow her shaking.
She pondered whether they would ever see their folks again, or their country, and whether that would happen before they were both old and senile.
Together they swayed with the roll of the ship, leaning into the breeze.
They remained there until the mountain and the continent faded into the sea and their tear-streaked faces had dried . . .
The launch for An Unfamiliar Kindness is scheduled for 5 October 2018.
It will be available as an eBook and paperback. An audiobook format will follow. I am busy expanding the launch team for the book. Why don’t you join the team?
No author can hope to have success with a book without a dedicated and vibrant launch team behind them. A launch team is a group of enthused supporters who are instrumental in getting the word out on launch day, they leave an online review, and help promote the book in their spheres of influence.
Being part of a launch team is so much more than just about a particular book—it’s about becoming part of a movement, a tribe, that promotes storytelling.
Being part of a launch team is not all work. Team members each receives a free electronic/digital version of the book to read in advance as well as a signed printed copy of the book closer to launch date. Team members also gain FREE access to ALL my published books in eBook format, and the audio format, once the latter becomes available.
Thank you for reading!
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This article was also posted on Medium.com.
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