Ok, confession time – I’m a massive fan of Christina Courtenay’s time slip writing! And you’ll find the evidence here on Being Anne – you can read my reviews of The Silent Touch of Shadows, The Secret Kiss of Darkness AND The Soft Whisper of Dreams (just click on the hyperlinks). So I’m sure you’ll forgive me for being just a teeny bit excited at the news that Choc Lit was publishing another time slip by Christina – The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight was released on 6th October in paperback and for kindle. And isn’t it wonderful when a book turns out to be every bit as perfect as you want it to be?
As the velvet cloak of moonlight settled over the ruined towers of Raglan Castle, the shadows beneath them stirred …
When newly widowed Tess visits Raglan Castle, she experiences an extraordinary vision that transports her to seventeenth-century Wales and a castle on the brink of a siege.
Even when Tess leaves Raglan to return to Merrick Court, her late husband’s home, the strange dreams continue as her life becomes increasingly intertwined with the past. And when the new owner of the estate arrives – New Zealander Josh Owens – the parallels become even more obvious.
But perhaps the visions aren’t just trying to tell their own story, maybe they’re also giving a warning …
My review will follow later (apologies, some personal problems at the moment), but I’m delighted to welcome Christina Courtenay to Being Anne with a guest post on the subject of honour…
Honour is not something we think about much these days, and yet in the past, it used to be supremely important. A gentleman was judged on whether he lived by the code of honour; he kept his word if he gave it and he would do anything not to appear dishonourable to others. Now, not so much.
Of course, most of us try to act in a way that is right, but we don’t talk about our honour as if it was something precious. In fact, we don’t really mention it at all – rather we talk about good people vs. evil/bad ones. We say that some people have no morals or scruples. But it all really means the same thing – acting in accordance with your beliefs and sticking to what you have promised.
While doing research for my latest time slip, The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight – half set during the latter part of the English Civil War in 1646 – I came across a man who truly lived by the code of honour, the 1st Marquis of Worcester. A wealthy nobleman who lived just across the border in Wales at Raglan Castle, he was a staunch royalist and supported King Charles I throughout the war. He lent his monarch huge sums of money, nearly bankrupting himself in the process, and he sent his eldest son to fight for the king’s cause, as well as lots of troops. The king rewarded him with the title of Marquis, but unfortunately the royalist side lost and Lord Worcester didn’t get anything else out of it. Instead, he lost everything.
It didn’t stop him staying loyal till the end though. In the summer of 1646, virtually the entire country had surrendered to the Parliamentarians and only a handful of castles or strongholds still held out. Raglan was one of them. Lord Worcester must have known the cause was hopeless as the king was by then a prisoner of the Scots. But the marquis’s staunch support of the monarch continued unabated and he readied his castle for one final stand, assembling stores, ammunition and a garrison of 800 men. As the heroine of my book says: “He’d decided on his allegiance and he was going to stand by it, come what may. That was true honour, wasn’t it? Or just sheer stubbornness in the face of insurmountable odds?”
I think it was probably a bit of both and I couldn’t help but like this irascible old man. When the siege was under way and the enemy told him the king had ordered him to surrender, he stubbornly refused. He said the king hadn’t written to him personally so he didn’t believe the order was relevant to him. He was also incredibly brave – one day a stray musket ball came flying in through a window, bounced off a pillar and hit him on the side of the head, but he laughed it off. He lived by his motto – mutare vel timere sperno – which meant ‘I scorn to change or to fear’. He didn’t change his allegiance and he didn’t fear anything.
In the end, he had to surrender though, as there was no way he could defeat the besiegers. They were led by General Fairfax and the marquis put his trust in that man’s honour – that the general would keep his word and let everyone in the garrison go free apart from the marquis himself. Luckily he did, but despite being a very old man (in his late 60’s by this time) Lord Worcester was taken to London where he died soon after of natural causes.
His son eventually regained some of the family’s lost possessions, but Raglan Castle was never lived in again. Its ruins now stand as a testament to the stubbornness and honour of one amazing old man – the 1st Marquis of Worcester. I salute him!
Thank you Christina! My review will follow as soon as I’m able…