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Margaret Birks & Jean Rosser
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When Isabella, a factory owner, discovers an unconscious young woman on a pottery canal wharf she finds an accident has caused her to lose her memory. As Isabella tries to discover her identity, she meets a young canal boatwomen, Annie. Together they set out to discover the cause of Mary's accident.
Their investigations lead them to trace the whereabouts of a mysterious earthen pot which is somehow connected to Mary. However another sinister figure may be ahead of them in the search. Lawrence, Isabella's staid uncle is reluctantly drawn into the mystery. Can they solve the riddle of the pot and rescue Mary and her family.
Isabella sat in Lawrence’s dining room and, as she looked around, she experienced one of those moments which most people have once or twice in their lives when, for a short time, all one’s senses seem to work together to produce a picture which lives on vividly in the mind for ever. The table was the focal point of her vision; a long rectangle of wood, highly polished, and so dark it appeared black, in which the flames of the tall white candles were reflected sharply. The wine glasses glittered and the silver sparkled. Rachel had just served the soup and Isabella imagined she could distinguish the smell of each individual vegetable. The steam from the soup rose like mist on a cold clear evening, and although a fire burned in the hearth, the atmosphere in the room seemed wintry.
Lawrence sat at one end of the table, appearing distinguished but austere in his black coat. Isabella sat on his left, then Doctor Carter, dapper as always, but silent, anxiety clouding his eyes. Hannah and Jacob, unable to hide their discomfort, sat very close together. Isabella fancied she could hear their quick shallow breathing, perfectly synchronised, as they looked neither to right nor to left. Annie came next, and seemed reassuringly normal as she turned from an unsuccessful attempt to draw out Jacob, towards Tom, who had resumed his usual sullen expression and looked as if he would rather be anywhere else than here. Then came the Quillans; Caroline, unusually quiet, Charles, his merry face wearing an unaccustomed frown, and Benjamin, who had eyes only for Rose who sat at his other side. Rose, flushed with excitement at this her first grownup dinner party, sat between Benjamin and Richard, her eyes wide as she seemed to be trying to memorise every detail of the scene.
Mary sat on Lawrence’s right and Isabella thought she had never seen her look more beautiful. Her golden hair had recovered its shine and she had dressed it in ringlets which suited her small face. Her dress, adorned with silver lace, was pale blue which matched her eyes and showed up the delicate pink of her complexion. She was smiling up at Richard who was gazing lovingly at her, his fair head bending to catch some remark she had made. His sudden laugh broke Isabella’s vision and she shivered, as the players in her scene became dinner party guests once more. Her soup was still hot; the experience had lasted only for seconds.
She became aware that Richard had asked her a question. “I’m sorry Richard I was miles away.” She tried to smile but her face felt stiff.
“I was asking if you had enjoyed the Dickens Reading tonight,” he said.
“Oh yes, very much,” she was able to reply. “Lawrence, Henry and yourself were excellent. It was as good as a play. I overheard many complimentary comments from the audience afterwards. It seemed to put people in the right mood for Christmas.”
“Of course, Arthur Hall must take most of the credit for the evening,” broke in Lawrence. “Although he has only been in Stoke a short time, he soon learned where the talent was to be found, and organised us very efficiently.”
Richard grunted, “I suppose we couldn’t have arranged it so quickly without him,” he admitted, “but he did rather bully us. Perhaps it was to his advantage not to know us very well. I can’t help feeling that anyone else would have been careful not to tread on too many toes.”
“I heard some talk of it becoming an annual event,” said Charles, and Isabella suppressed a shudder. After tonight, would they want to even remember the Dickens evening let alone repeat it?
As Rachel served the main course, Richard, whose manners were impeccable, turned from Isabella to Rose and Isabella heard him complimenting her on her dress and asking her about her life on the boat. After her first few monosyllabic replies, she was soon chattering away to him as if she had known him all her life. Lawrence, on the other hand, seemed reluctant to speak to Mary, and when he did so it was in stil
Margaret and Jean live in Penkhull, a village near to Stoke upon Trent in the Potteries area of North Staffordshire, together with their elderly Jack Russell, Pippa. They have cruised extensively for the last 15 years on the waterways of England and Wales in their 32 foot narrowboat, Amy, gaining an understanding of the industrial landscape both of the canals and the places they pass through. This, their first novel, is a result of their desire to preserve, at least in print, some of the atmosphere of Victorian Stoke upon Trent at a time when such heritage is at risk of being destroyed.
Life on the waterways encouraged Margaret and Jean to observe wildlife at close quarters and they have become active members of their local wildlife trust. A wish to record memories of their journeys lead them to an interest in video photography and editing.
Throughout their former lives as a health professional and a chemistry teacher respectively, Margaret and Jean have enjoyed writing both prose and poetry but now that they have more time they hope that more novels will follow
Treasures Quote: The Dickensian ambience makes Margaret Birks & Jean Rosser’s mystery, the Treasures from an earthen pot delightfully authentic. Resurrecting the Victorian era the authors take the reader to Stoke-on-Trent, a living, breathing English industrial community. It is a unique adventure into the past, a literary gem that should not be missed. -- Gabriel Timar, author of the Novgorod Diary
Treasures Review: The authors weave the story of a priceless seventeenth-century earthenware pot using the elements of a classic mystery. The most enjoyable, well-researched, description of sites, smells and sounds coupled with the consistent behavior of the leading characters make it a unique literary excursion into past. The Victorian pace of the events lends authenticity to the story. Lovers of mysteries should not miss this challenging, entertaining, thought provoking story. -- Gabriel Timar, author of the Novgorod Diary
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 234
Paper Weight (lb): 14.2
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