Monday, 30 July 2012

Children of The Storm; Stage Six in My Novel Marathon

Second in Kitty Rainbow Trilogy
Click to obtain

How does a trilogy happen? In my case it certainly was not planned. 

When I completed the novel Kitty Rainbow instead of the sense of closure which can come at the end of a novel I was haunted by the still powerful presence of the charismatic and complicated Kitty Rainbow. There seemed to so much story untold.

I was compellers by this feeling made me to embark on a sequel with the idea that this novel should stand alone, apart from Kitty Rainbow but could also be read in sequence. Hence I embarked on my only trilogy.

So it happens that Kitty Rainbow emerges again, dominating the background of Children of the Storm. Kitty learned her lessons in life from retired fighter Ishmael Slaughter and has become the proprietor of Rainbow and Daughter a very successful draper’s shop in the Durham market town of Priorton. She is life partner (but never married – very scandalous in those days) to William Scorton inventor and manufacturer whose factory in this novel has been turned over to the making of shells in the Great War.

In the foreground of the novel are her stepsons, Samuel, Michael and Tommy, and Leonora and Mara, her children with William.   Taking place between 1915 and 1921 the novel tells the story of this complex family, set against the dramas of war on the home front, on the Somme, and on the bloody Russian Front where Russia is slowly disintegrating into full scale revolution.

In her fifties now, Kitty is very involved with her business, William has retired to make clocks and invent a signalling mechanism for railways, middle-aged Michael is running the armaments works, Left-thinking thirty eight year old Samuel is in Russia writing journalist, acting as a go-between and perhaps a spy, thirty seven your old Leonora is working for the Russian Red Cross in field hospitals, seventeen year old Tommy  is kicking his heels dying to be a soldier and  fifteen year old Mara is a pupil teacher in a school in the coastal port of Hartlepool.

The event at the beginning of the novel – the bombardment of Hartlepool – sets away events impact this  family to its core and reflect the destructive ripple, rippling impact of war on the individual.

For You, if you have just a few more minutes

Some Extracts

In Hartlepool fifteen year old Mara arrives at school early in the morning reflecting on the difficulty of the task she has taken on and the fear she has of the domineering head teacher Mr Clonmel.
He was nodding now, a slight smile on his face. ‘Then you too are an example to our children Miss Scorton.’
She struggled to think well of this, but was uncomfortable again at how he could turn even this fascinating idea into a lecture. She was relieved of the responsibility of answering by a heavy rumble from the direction of the harbour.
Mr Clonmel turned his head. ‘Guns,’ he said. ‘The soldiers in the battery must be practicing.’ She was just glancing past him, looking for some means of escape when the earth beneath her seemed to ripple like thrown silk and the whole building about her shuddered like a restive horse. For a second even the dust in the air seemed to be suspended. Then there was a creaking and groaning of wood; every pane of glass in the partition cracked like a rifle.
Then everything went black.
When she came to, Mara found she had been flung into Mr Clonmel’s arms. ‘Mr Clonmel!’
There was no reply. Desperately she pulled herself out of his frozen clasp and he fell, insensate. The shriek of a bursting shell pieced the fabric of her brain. She struggled to her feet and looked at the crumpled figure on the floor. She leaned over and then recoiled from the mass of blood and brain matter spilling from the back of his head.
‘Let’s at him,’ Miss Scorton. Give us a see.’ Joe Bly knelt opposite her and put a blackened hand on Mr Clonmel’s scrawny neck.
‘Is he dead, Mr Bly?’
Joe shook his head slowly. ’Nothing so sure, Miss Scorton. Dead as a doornail. Seen a few like that in Africa, fightin’ them Boers.’

Having worked as a governess in Russia 37 year old Leonora Rainbow has volunteered (as some British women did) to work for the Russian Red Cross.

She resisted the temptation to smooth down her grey dress and white apron or to tuck a wandering curl under her white veil. The other fifteen nurses all younger than her stood as still and rapt as the icons around the walls, their eyes glued to the gold-clad back of the priest as he made his way to the alter.
The perfume of incense wafted across and made Leonora’s nose itch. The breath of the priest iced on the air as he made the signs of the cross. She was used to these elaborate rituals, having quite regularly attended services with the Poliakovs. In fact her young friend Lucette Poliakov was here, first in line waiting for the priest’s benediction.
Now the priest was turning to face them, causing a ripple of indrawn breath, a rustle of feet as he held out the crucifix to full view of the congregation. He blessed the heap of red crosses then, having asked the name of each girl, blessed her, presented her with a red cross and offered her his crucifix to kiss. ‘To you Leonya, child of God, servant of the most high, is given this token of faith of hope of charity…thou shalt tend the sick, the wounded, the needy; with words of comfort you shalt thou cheer them.’
Standing in the shadow of the great door, and tall man in high boots and a shaggy hat carefully scrutinised each veiled face. Suddenly Leonora’s hands were grabbed and she was pulled against a great chest in a bear hug which brought with it the smell of snow and tallow candles, of pine forest and tobacco. She struggled to free herself and stood back to identify her assailant.
‘Leonora! Leonora! Leo!’ The voice that clipped its way through the massive beard was English and she knew it as well as she knew her own reflection in the mirror,
She drew closer to peer into the man’s face in the pearly half-light that strayed into the cathedral from the snowy square outside. ‘Samuel!’ She finally got the word pout/ ‘What in Heaven’s name are you doing here?’



More about this one anon ....

Children of the Storm

Scroll down for notes on the Kitty Rainbow novel itself and the Priorton Map and for inside info on Kitty Rainbow 
Riches of the Earth, Under a Brighter Sky,
 Land of your Possession and A Dark Light Shining.

I hope you are enjoying or will sometime enjoy them all


  1. I love Children of the Storm. It was the first of your books that I read Wendy and I remember being bowled over by the sheer daring and the scope of it, as well as by the writing itself. I would highly recommend it to anyone who has not yet read it - you're in for a treat!

  2. By the way - what a lovely Magna cover for an Englishwoman in France - so much closer to the real inspiration for the novel. Good for Magna, you must be very pleased.



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