Cold Blows the Wind
by Catherine Meyrick
Hobart Town 1878 – a vibrant town drawing people from every corner of the earth where, with confidence and a flair for storytelling, a person can be whoever he or she wants. Almost.
Ellen Thompson is young, vivacious and unmarried, with a six-month-old baby. Despite her fierce attachment to her family, boisterous and unashamed of their convict origins, Ellen dreams of marriage and disappearing into the ranks of the respectable. Then she meets Harry Woods.
Harry, newly arrived in Hobart Town from Western Australia, has come to help his aging father, ‘the Old Man of the Mountain’ who for more than twenty years has guided climbers on Mount Wellington. Harry sees in Ellen a chance to remake his life.
But, in Hobart Town, the past is never far away, never truly forgotten. When the past collides with Ellen’s dreams, she is forced to confront everything in life a woman fears most.
Based on a period in the lives of the author’s great-great-grandparents, Sarah Ellen Thompson and Henry Watkins Woods, Cold Blows the Wind is not a romance but it is a story of love – a mother’s love for her children, a woman’s love for her family and, those most troublesome loves of all, for the men in her life. It is a story of the enduring strength of the human spirit.
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Enjoy an Excerpt
Ellen slammed through the door into the kitchen, pulling the pins from her hat, her light brown hair tumbling down.
‘Why are there so many bloody useless loafers in this town?’ She stabbed the hatpins back into her hat and placed it on the battered sideboard alongside her mother’s hat, the pile of her father’s old newspapers and an assortment of other bits and pieces no one could work out where to put.
Mam turned from the stove, a gleam of amusement in her dark eyes. ‘What’s happened, my love?’
‘Dan Rogers and his mates, outside the Rob Roy, giving me lip.’ Ellen ran her fingers through her thick hair and twisted it back into a neatish knot.
‘And you gave them a piece of your mind,’ her father said from behind his week-old newspaper.
Her two youngest sisters, Alice and Jane, sitting at the end of the table, paused their game of cat’s cradle and watched, trying not to grin.
‘I did.’ Ellen raised her chin. ‘No one messes with a Thompson.’
‘No.’ Her father looked over his paper, his hazel eyes fierce. ‘They do not.’
‘And Mrs Bryce,’ Ellen said, pushing the last of her hairpins into place, ‘had me blacking the fireplaces. She said there wasn’t enough ironing today, so it was either do the fireplaces or not get paid at all. Said it like she was doing me a favour.’
‘Money’s money, Ellen.’ Dad lowered his newspaper.
‘But, Dad, look at my hands.’ She held them out. ‘Her and her blasted fireplaces. Next thing she’ll have me emptying her piss pot.’
Her father raised his voice. ‘Language, girl.’
‘You can talk.’
‘I’m an old man—I can say and do as I like.’ He lifted his paper again. ‘You’re little more than a young wench.’
Knowing he couldn’t see her, Ellen poked her tongue out.
Jane and Alice stared at each other, stifling their giggles.
Bessie, two years younger than Ellen, sat by the window, her attention on the seam of the underbodice she was mending.
Her back to the room, Mam stirred the large pot simmering on the stove. ‘You haven’t given her a piece of your mind and lost the job?’
‘No, but it’s beyond me why these old women can’t do their own housework like the rest of us.’
‘You wouldn’t have a job if they did.’ Mary Ann, her elder sister, walked in and dumped her hat beside Ellen’s.
Mary Ann was so damned practical.
‘You haven’t spent the day cleaning fireplaces. Do you know how many fireplaces that house has?’
‘There are days where I think I’d prefer cleaning fireplaces to dusting china dogs and vases.’ Mary Ann pulled a face and said in a plummy voice, ‘That plate is Wedgwood, my dear. It is worth more than you are ever likely to earn in a year.’
‘What’s the point of that?’ Alice asked.
Mary Ann shrugged. ‘It’s pretty, but not much use if you can’t eat off it.’ She raised an eyebrow, grinning. ‘So what are her unmentionables like?’
‘Drawers big enough to make a sail for a clipper.’
‘Show some respect,’ Dad laughed.
Catherine Meyrick is an Australian writer of romantic historical fiction. She lives in Melbourne but grew up in Ballarat, a large regional city steeped in history. Until recently she worked as a customer service librarian at her local library. She has a Master of Arts in history and is also an obsessive genealogist.
When she is not writing, reading and researching, Catherine enjoys gardening, the cinema and music of all sorts from early music and classical to folk and country & western. And, not least, taking photos of the family cat to post on Instagram.
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