This morning, I’d like to welcome Judith Barrow, who is sharing an excerpt from her latest book, A Hundred Tiny Threads, which is now available for pre-order. I know you’ll enjoy this one, and will remember to share hither and yon, as you can. Thanks so much, and thanks, Judith, for taking part in #ExcerptWeek. Welcome!
Gritty family saga set in Lancashire in the 1900s and Ireland at the time of the Black and Tans.
Winifred is a determined young woman eager for new experiences, for a life beyond the grocer’s shop counter ruled over by her domineering mother. When her friend Honora – an Irish girl, with the freedom to do as she pleases – drags Winifred along to a suffragette rally, she realises that there is more to life than the shop and her parents’ humdrum lives of work and grumbling.
Bill Howarth’s troubled childhood echoes through his early adult life and the scars linger, affecting his work, his relationships and his health. The only light in his life comes from a chance meeting with Winifred, the daughter of a Lancashire grocer. The girl he determines to make his wife.
Meeting Honora’s intelligent and silver-tongued medical student brother turns Winifred’s heart upside down and she finds herself pregnant. Bill Howarth reappears on the scene offering her a way out.
EXCERPT FROM A HUNDRED TINY THREADS
… Brought back to Bill the distant memory of the day his father died.
Wilfred Howarth had given Bill a beating that morning for not getting up when first called and had promised another when he returned home after his shift. He’d said he was getting Bill used to an early rise because the following day would be his thirteenth birthday; the day he was to follow his father down the mine as a putter. It didn’t bother Bill; he’d always known that pushing the small wagons along the metal plates through the workings to the passages where the horses could be hitched up to them was to be his lot in life.
Bill remembered hearing the thump and rush of running feet on the cobbles outside his house at the same time he heard the warning siren from the mine. He’d run with the crowd before even knowing what was happening; seeing with the strain on the faces and the hearing of the sobs and cries of the women and children around him that life in the village had changed forever.
‘What’s ’appened?’ Bill caught the arm of a woman.
‘They say there’s been a flood.’ Her eyes were wild. ‘My three lads are down there. What am I going to do? I have two more bairns to bring up. Their da’s already gone; killed in that explosion last year.’ She grabbed his sleeve before dropping to her knees.
Pulled down with her Bill looked around for somebody to help the woman but there was no one; they might as well not be there for all the notice paid to them.
He dragged her to her feet. ‘C’mon. Unless we get to the gates we’ll never know who’s safe and who’s still down there.’
The management had closed the gates. The cries of despair soon changed to shouts of anger in an effort to discover what had happened. When a grey-faced man in a suit approached the crowd the silence was instant. He held up his hand to quiet them, an unnecessary gesture, before he spoke.
‘From what we can gather there was break through to an old abandoned mine that was flooded. We know some of the men are safe—’ He waited for the cries of relief to abate. ‘But we don’t know how many yet.’
Continue reading: #ExcerptWeek – A Hundred Tiny Threads by Judith Barrow | The Write Stuff