Sunday, 31 December 2017

Sunday WW1 Remembered...

As 1918 dawned and the Great War entered another phase I wonder what was going through the minds of those who were still fighting and of those who waited at home for their safe return.

Dawn on the Somme


 Robert Nichols

Last night rain fell over the scarred plateau 

And now from the dark horizon, dazzling, flies 

Arrow on fire-plumed arrow to the skies 

Shot from the bright arc of Apollo's bow; 

And from the wild and writhen waste below,

From flashing pools and mounds lit one by one,

O is it mist or are these companies 

Of morning heroes who arise, arise 

With thrusting arms, with limbs and hair aglow 

Toward the risen god, upon whose brow

Burns the gold laurel of all victories, 

Hero and hero's god, th' invincible Sun?

Robert Nichols (1893-1944) was a playwright and poet. Born into a wealthy Essex family, he was educated at Winchester College and Trinity College, Oxford. At the outbreak of World War I, he left Oxford to serve as a second lieutenant in the Royal Field artillery. However, after suffering from shell shock in 1916, he served only a short time in France before he was invalided out of the army. And although his active service was short, he is still recognised as one of the earliest soldier poets of World War I.


Saturday, 30 December 2017

Hist Fic Saturday ~ Author spotlight on John R. McKay

On Hist Fic Saturday I am thrilled to welcome Historical Fiction writer

John R. McKay

Why I write Historical Fiction 
John R Mckay

I would like to thank Jo for giving me the opportunity to pass on my thoughts regarding the genre of literature I am most interested in and which has influenced my own writing - Historical Fiction.

I have been interested in history for as long as I can remember. My main interest is with twentieth century history and in particular the two world wars and military history. I have had a fascination for this period as it, more than any other period of our history, has shaped the way we live right now.

I have read many, many books on the subject, both factual and fictional and it was therefore natural that when I starting on my own writing path, this would be the genre to which I would concentrate. After all, they say that writers should write about what they know!

However, I am interested in history in general and will read books if they attract my interest. I particularly like the work of Wilbur Smith (mainly his early work and the Egyptian series), Sebastian Faulkes, Simon Scarrow (the Napoleon/Wellington series is particularly good) and, although contemporarily written, Charles Dickens, who has to be my all time favourite writer.

There is so much in history that can provide a backdrop for a good story. Whether it is the industrial revolution, ancient Rome or the two world wars, there is always something interesting to read, or write about and base a story around. Historical fiction can take a reader back to those times: to what it was like to live in Victorian London; to be a legionary under the command of Caesar; or a sailor on the dreadful voyages to the Soviet Union in 1942. There is an endless list for the historical fiction author to draw from to get their ideas and storylines.

I don’t consider myself an expert on twentieth century history but I do know enough to construct a story based around actual events and this is always backed up with a lot of research before I start on any project. For my first novel, ‘The Journal’, I read many books on the Battle of Arras in 1917 and also on the London Blitz so that those scenes would be as historically accurate as possible.


Prior to starting my second novel, ‘The Absolution Of Otto Finkel’ I once again studied hard before putting pen to paper. I discovered many incidents from WW2 that I had not known about and included these situations in the novel.


For my latest work, ‘The Worst Journey In The World’, I interviewed a veteran of the Arctic Convoys and visited the Imperial War Museum in London to broaden my knowledge enough to ensure it was as accurate as possible. I feel that to get the minutiae correct ensures the reader gets a feel for the time the story is set in.


I personally like to get the small things correct, even if it does not add to the plot. It’s all about the detail. In ‘The Worst Journey In The World’ I thought I owed it to those sailors to make sure that it was just how they had experienced it; from the food they ate and clothes they wore to the equipment they used and the nervous anticipation and fear they felt as they were about to go into battle. If a book is to be based on real events then it should be as factually correct as is possible, to every detail.

Living in Mons, Belgium for three years in the early 1990s whilst in the armed forces was a good foundation for the knowledge I gained in relation to the First World War. Whilst there I visited many sites (Ypres, The Somme, Passchendaele) and this is where my interest grew. I always intended to write a novel around the war and am very proud of my third novel, ‘The Sun Will Always Shine’, the story of two brothers caught up in the horrors of the trenches.


I remain fascinated and intrigued with history and historical fiction and these are the first books I will look at when looking for something new to read when in a bookshop. Not only do they entertain, they broaden your knowledge. And they also give me ideas and inspiration to keep me writing.

You can find out more about John and his writing on his website

Like on Facebook

Follow on Twitter @JohnMcKay68

Amazon UK

Huge thanks  to John for being my Hist Fic author in the spotlight today and for sharing his love of historical fiction with us.


Friday, 29 December 2017

My Reads of 2017...

This year has been such a fabulous year of reading that, in over 200 books read in 2017, it's been really, really difficult to choose but after much consideration, Jaffareadstoo is delighted to share, in no particular order, our favourite reads of the year.

Grateful thanks go to the authors and publishers for their continuing support of Jaffareadstoo and for providing review copies of these books.

32713449 34113891 31378911

32596231 34303384  34744638

34735173  3170552534994122

34886124 33370511 34150794

Click on the individual book link to read my review

29905573   32618152  30231547
30523199   33795542 34095181
 34203697 32181766 31422849

35273434 35477888 33011222


Thank you to all these amazing authors who have shared their stories with me 

and who have taken me on the most incredible journeys from the comfort of my favourite armchair.

😻 Here's to lots more Happy Reading in 2018 😻


Thursday, 28 December 2017

My 12 in 12 in 2017...

As the end of my reading year approaches these are my much anticipated

12 in 12

Twelve authors who were new to me:
  1. Catherine Ryan Howard - Distress Signals
  2. Liz Trenow - The Silk Weaver
  3. Clare Swatman - Before You Go
  4. Lucy Daniels - Summer at Hope Meadows
  5. Beatrice Colin  - To Capture What We Cannot Keep
  6. Sarah Pinborough - Behind her Eyes
  7. Juliet Greenwood - The White Camelia
  8. Matthew Sullivan - Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
  9. Nancy Revell - Secrets of the Shipyard Girls
  10. Magdalena McGuire - Home is Nearby
  11. Victoria Walters - Second Love of my Life 
  12. Carrie Elks - A Winter Tale

Twelve authors I have read before:
  1. Angela Marson - Evil Games
  2. Simon Toyne - The Boy Who Saw
  3. Jane Cable - Another You
  4. Dina Jefferies - Before the Rains 
  5. Jan Ruth - Strawberry Sky
  6. Anita Shreve - The Stars are Fire 
  7. Robert Thorogood - Death Knocks Twice 
  8. Annemarie Neary - The Orphans
  9. Guy Fraser Sampson - A Whiff of Cyanide
  10. Marina Fiorato - Crimson and Bone
  11. MJ Arlidge- Love Me Not
  12. Katie Fforde - The Christmas Stocking and Other Stories

Twelve books from authors I know will never let me down:
  1. The Phantom Tree - Nicola Cornick
  2. Felicity at the Cross Hotel - Helena Fairfax 
  3. The Trophy Child - Paula Daly
  4. The Friend - Dorothy Koomson
  5. The A-Z of Everything - Debbie Johnson
  6. Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay - Jill Mansell
  7. The Thousand Lights Hotel -Emylia Hall  
  8. Pocketful of Dreams - Jean Fullerton 
  9. The Breakdown - B A Paris
  10. Small Great Things - Jodi Picoult 
  11. Blood Sisters - Jane Corry
  12. Merry and Bright - Debbie Macomber

Twelve Audio books I have enjoyed listening to:
  1. Outlander - Diana Gabaldon (Audible)
  2. Dragonfly in Amber - Diana Gabaldon(Audible)
  3. Sweet Tooth - Ian McEwan (BBCR4)
  4. Blood and Beauty - Sarah Dunant (BBCR4)
  5. Midwinter Break - Bernard Macaverty (BBCR4)
  6. Burning Bright - Tracy Chevalier (BBCR4)
  7. The Deathwatch Journal - Ian Rankin (BBCR4)
  8. Murder on the Orient Express - Agatha Christie(Audible)
  9. Crossing the Whitewash- Nick Rippington(Audible)
  10. A Discovery of Witches - Deborah Harkness (Audible)
  11. The Monster Collection - Audible Original( Audible)
  12. Apprentice-Scarlet City -Part 1 - Rebecca Gable (Audible)

Twelve authors I am looking forward to reading more of :
  1. Beth Underdown
  2. Helen Steadman
  3. Nicola Pryce
  4. Victoria Cornwall
  5. Minette Walters
  6. Carrie Elks
  7. Merryn Allingham
  8. Nicola Cornick
  9. Amy Engels
  10. Sarah Pinborough
  11. Lisa Mary London
  12. Angus Donald

Twelve books that took me by the hand and led me into the past:
  1. The Vanishing - Sophia Tobin
  2. The Witchfinders Sister - Beth Underdown
  3. Widdershins - Helen Steadman
  4. The Thief's Daughter - Victoria Cornwall
  5. Sleeper's Castle - Barbara Erskine
  6. Under the Approaching Dark - Anna Belfrage
  7. The Wild Air - Rebecca Mascull
  8. The Last Hours - Minette Walters
  9. The Captain's Girl - Nicola Pryce
  10. The Butcher's Block - Lucienne Boyce
  11. Last Christmas in Paris - Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
  12. The Second Blast of the Trumpet - Marie Macpherson

Twelve books that took me into a world of crime and psychological suspense:
  1. Turning Blue - Benjamin Myers
  2. Earthly Remains - Donna Leon
  3. The Bone Field - Simon Kernick
  4. Copy Cat - Alex Lake
  5. The Ice Beneath Her - Camilla Grebe
  6. Maria in the Moon - Louise Beech 
  7. The One - John Marrs
  8. Into the Water - Paula Hawkins
  9. Obsession - Amanda Robson
  10. The Other Twin - L V Hay
  11. The Chalk Pit - Elly Griffiths
  12. Deaths in December - Susi Holliday

Twelve books that surprised a good way:
  1. Jerusalem Ablaze - Orlando Ortega Medina
  2. The Roanoke Girls - Amy Engels
  3. Baby Doll - Holly Overton
  4. Ginny Moon - Benjamin Ludwig
  5. Relativity - Antonia Hayes
  6. Reality Rehab - Lisa Mary London
  7. The Possessions - Sarah Flannery Murphy 
  8. The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman - Mindy Meija
  9. Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong - Gina Kirkham
  10. The Ludlow Ladies Society - Ann O'Loughlin 
  11. The Book of Forgotten Authors - Christopher Fowler
  12. Making Space - Sarah Tierney

Twelve Books Considered Literary Classics:
  1. Anne of Green Gables - L M Montgomery(Audible)
  2. Bleak House - Charles Dickens (Librivox)
  3. The Alchemist - Paul Coelho (Audible)
  4. Moonfleet - John Meade Falkner (Librivox)
  5. What Katy Did - Susan Coolidge
  6. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
  7. The Railway Children - E Nesbitt
  8. Testament of Youth - Vera Brittain
  9. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
  10. Dracula - Bram Stoker
  11. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
  12. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott

Twelve Books which took me to places far away:
  1. I Know My Name - C J Cooke (Greece)
  2. The Honeymoon - Tina Seskis (Maldives)
  3. When the Future Comes too Soon - Selina Siak Chin Yoke (Asia)
  4. Missing Pieces - Heather Gudenkauf (America)
  5. Octavia's Journey - Miguel Bonnefoy (South America)
  6. The Silent Kookaburra - Liza Perrat (Australia)
  7. Under a Sardinian Sky - Sara Alex (Sardinia)
  8. Dark Clouds Over Nuala- Harriet Steel (India)
  9. The Ice Beneath Her - Camilla Grebe (Scandinavia)
  10. The Monster's Daughter - Michelle Pretorious (South Africa)
  11. The Dragonfly - Kate Dunn (France)
  12. Wolves in the Dark - Gunnar Staalesen (Norway)

Twelve books from my Non-Fiction Shelf:
  1. Hitler's Forgotten Children - Indrid Von Oelhafen
  2. Pirates : Truth and Tales - Helen Hollick
  3. Centaur - Declan Murphy with Ami Rao
  4. Warriors and Kings - Martin Wall
  5. To Catch A King - Charles Spencer
  6. Thinking Out Loud - Rio Ferdinand
  7. Verdi - John Suchet
  8. In the Footsteps of the Wives of Henry VIII - Sarah Morris and Natalie Grueninger
  9. Spell of the Horse - Pam Billinge
  10. Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosties - Paul Anthony Jones
  11. Best Loved Poems - Anna Sampson
  12. Forgotten Histories - Jem Duducu

Twelve books to be published in 2018 that I can't wait to talk about and which are already on my to be read pile:

  1. Anatomy of a Scandal -Sarah Vaughan
  2. Traitor - David Hingley
  3. A Map of the Dark - Karen Ellis
  4. Three Things about Elsie- Joanna Cannon
  5. Aphrodite's Tears - Hannah Fielding
  6. The Coffin Path - Katherine Clements
  7. The Homecoming -Rosie Howard
  8. Fairvale Ladies Book Club - Sophie Green
  9. The Immortalists - Chloe Benjamin
  10. Only Child - Rhiannon Navin
  11. The Last Day - Claire Dyer
  12. Six Tudor Queens: Jane Seymour - Alison Weir


 to these talented authors for sharing the gift of their imagination with me. 

Your books have taken me on the most wonderful adventures in 2017

Come back tomorrow my favourite reads of the year ....

Thanks to Jo at The Book Jotter who  inspired this meme...


Wednesday, 27 December 2017

End of Year ~ THANK YOU

It's that time of year again when we count our blessings and give a whopping 



To 203 amazing authors for writing 203 incredible adventures

 in the books we have read this year

To ALL who have been our guests on the blog

Paula Martin

Martin Edwards

Paula Daley

Kirsten Mackenzie

Angela Marsons

Cath Staincliffe

Michael Wills

Faith Hogan

Sarah Jasmon

Liza Perrat

Caroline James

Debbie Johnson

June Taylor 

Nicci Rae

Pauline Barclay

Linda Swift

Kirsty Ferry

Kate Rigby

Claire Brown

Barbara Copperthwaite

Gina Kirkam

Jan Ruth

Claire Coombes

Wendy Unsworth

Carys Bray

Donna Morrissey

Helen Irene Young

Sue Featherstone

Amanda Brooke

Cath Staincliffe

Caroline Wallace

Anna Belfrage

Beth Underdown

Kirsty Ferry

Wendy Unsworth

Helena Fairfax

Victoria Cornwall

Linda Hooper

June Francis

Isabella Davidson

Mark Wesley

Rebecca Mascull 

Sharon Booth

Elizabeth Ashworth

Helen Gudenkauf

Susan Pape

Susanna Bavin

Jane Beehmah

Jane Corry

Carol Cooper

Anna Belfrage

Annemarie Neary

Jane Cable

Harriet Steel

John McKay

Linda Green

Anne Stormont

Kate Marsh

Lynda Stacey

Kate Bufton

Glynn Holloway

Emma Curtis

Katherine Sunderland

Emma Curtis

Katherine Sunderland

Helena Fairfax

Anne O'Brien

Susan Grossey

Alyson Rhodes

Lainy Swanson

Helen Giles

Gordon McGhie

Selina Siak Chin Yoke

Sheryl Browne

Elisabeth Carpenter

Katerina Diamond

Lucienne Boyce

Ana Sampson

Victoria Cornwall

Jean Fullerton

Silvia Forrester

Kathryn Freeman

Nicola Pryce

Virginia Moffatt

David Matthews 

Anne Allen

To the Authors and Publishers who have invited us to be part of some splendid Blog Tours

The Alibi - Jaime Raven

The Bone Field - Simon Kernick

Tell Me A Lie - C J Carver

Lady Cop Makes Trouble - Amy Stewart

Books for Living - Will Schwalbe

The Button Maker's Daughter - Merryn Allingham

The Silk Weaver - Liz Trenow

Relativity - Antonia Hayes

Corpus - Rory Clements

The Watcher - Ross Armstrong

Evil Games - Angela Marsons

Burned and Broken - Mark Hardie

The Yorkshire Shepherdess - Amanda Owen

Another You - Jane Cable

Secrets We Keep - Faith Hogan

Before You Go - Clare Swatman

The One - John Marrs

The Damselfly - S J I Holliday

What You Don't Know - JoAnn Chaney

The Devil in the Snow - Sarah Armstrong

Jerusalem Ablaze - Orlando Ortega-Medina

Stasi Wolf - David Young

Her Perfect Life -Sam Hepburn

The Orphan's Tale - Pam Jenoff

Before the Rains - Dinah Jeffries

One Last Wish - Ella Harper

Let the Dead Speak by Jane Casey

The Silent Fountain -Victoria Fox

Roanoke Girls - Amy Engel

An Unsuitable Marriage - Colette Dartford

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman - Mindy Mejia

The Witchfinder's Sister - Beth Underdown

Foxes Unearthed - Lucy Jones

The Possessions - Sara Flannery Murphy

Boundary - Andree A Michaud

Good As Gone - Amy Gentry

My Name is Leon - Kit de Waal

Under A Sardinian Sky - Sara Alexanader

The Body in the Ice - A J Mackenzie

Time to Win - Harry Brett

The Shadow Queen - Anne O'Brien

The Stars are Fire - Anita Shreve

Hitler's Forgotten Children - Ingrid Von Oelhafen & Tim Tate

The Other Us - Fiona Harper

Obsession - Amanda Robson

The Butlins Girls - Elaine Everest

The Leopard at the Door - Jennifer McVeigh

Making Space -Sarah Tierney

Wolves in the Dark - Gunnar Staalesen

Ginny Moon - Benjamin Ludwig

All the Good Things - Claire Fisher

The Mayfly - James Hazel

Widdershins - Helen Steadman

I Know My Name - C J Cooke

Do Not Become Alarmed - Maile Meloy

Second Chance Cafe - :Lilly Bartlett

Skin Deep - Laura Wilkinson

The A-Z of Everything - Debbie Johnson

The Importance of Being me - Caroine Grace Cassidy

The Little Kiosk by the Sea -Jennifer Bohnet

Sweet Little Lies - Caz Frear

Blood Sisters - Jane Corry

To Kill A President - Sam Bourne

The Ludlow Ladies' Society - Ann O'Loughlin

Not A Sound - Helen Gudenkauf

The Other Twin - L V Hay

Death Knocks Twice - Robert Thorogood

Woman in the Shadows - Carol McGrath

A Message from the Other Side - Moira Forsyth

Unforgivable - Mike Thomas

Andalucian Fiesta - Hannah Fielding

The Way Back to Us - Kay Langdale

When the Future Comes too Soon - Selina Siak Chin Yok

Dan Knew - Fiona Curnow

Maria in the Moon - Louise Beech

The Spell of the Horse - Pam Billinge

Copy Cat - Alex Lake

99 Red Balloons - Elizabeth Carpenter

The Waterway Girls - Milly Adams

The Angel - Katerina Diamond

Bluebird, Bluebird - Attica Locke

Home is Nearby - Magdalena McGuire

Blood is Game - Angus Donald

The Book of Forgotten Authors - Christopher Fowler

Invisible Women - Sarah Long

Christmas at Conwenna Cove - Darcie Boleyn

The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosties - Paul Anthony Jones

Last Christmas in Paris - Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

Legacy of Spies - John le Carre

Wilde in Love - Eloisa James

The Man in the Needlecord Jacket - Linda Macdonald

Sweet William - Iain Maitland

Merry and Bright - Debbie Macomber

Just One Time - K S Hunter

East End Angels - Rosie Hendry

Anything for Her - C J Minett

And a very special thank you to all the bloggers who continue to support Jaffareadstoo with 

their wisdom when things go a bit off kilter

and who retweet and share my blog posts on a daily basis

A BIG shout out to Book Connectors on Facebook, thank you - you're all amazing.

Thank you everyone for being part of Jaffareadstoo's bookish journey in 2017

we couldn't do this without you.

Here's to another amazing literary journey in 2018.

Happy Reading


Tuesday, 26 December 2017

The Spotlight falls on ...Jaffa..

Random Facts About Orange One

Do you have a middle name?

All cats have a middle name.

My middle name is Pickle – I have no idea why

What is your favourite drink?

Whiskers Cat Milk but the V.E.T says I can’t have it so I am relegated to water and when
no-one is looking I drink out of the garden pond.

What is your favourite food?

Gourmet - Beef or Turkey
Sometimes my humans try and trick me with another brand but I am not easily fooled

What was the last thing you bought?

Occasionally I do a bit of inter-cat shopping for cat treats – I sneak packets of Dreamies into the house under cover of darkness

What is your favourite book of all time?

Catlantis by Anna Starobinets

What is your favourite colour?

Orange …..of course

Do you have any pets?

Yes, I have two human pets who are now nicely trained to do everything I ask 

What is your favourite perfume?

Eau de Mouse

Where is your favourite hideaway?

My favourite hideaway is under the chair in the spare bedroom where I have a cosy blanket and a few cat toys

Do you speak another language?

Of course

I  say “hello” to my  human every morning, just to be polite

How many siblings do you have?

I have a sister but I haven’t seen her for a long, long time and that makes me sad

Where is your Favourite place to lie in wait?

The stairs are my playground - I enjoy nipping toes and ankles

When was the last time you meowed?

This morning when I couldn’t get into the wardrobe. I need to check it daily for intruders

What is your Favourite Blog?

The one with my name above the door …Jaffareadstoo, of course

What is your Favourite pastime?

Sleeping - it's an art form I have perfected

What is your favourite TV Show

Outlander  – I'm team, Jamie

Do you have a friend?

Yes, Timmy - he's a sneak and a thief

Do you have a secret?

Yes, but if I told you I would have to kill you

What would you say is your specialty?

I take security very seriously and check items that come into the house very carefully

Anything else to say, Jaffa ?

Of course, I hope your Christmas is shining brightly 

Thank you for visiting

Monday, 25 December 2017

A Christmas Short Story ~ Jo Barton

A Cristmasse Wedding 

Alys Bailey took a deep breath and pushed back the carved wooden screen. Looking down into the great hall that was swathed with glossy bunches of holly and mistletoe, she could sense, in the early dawn light, that all was quiet. She headed quickly towards the stone stairwell and, lifting the hem of her trailing green cloak, made her way down the spiral staircase to the kitchen below.

The sweet, yeasty smell of bread dough and the sharp tang of smouldering wood greeted her as she quickly looked around. No one stirred, except, Ned, the sleepy kitchen boy, who, fiddling with his outer tunic scurried outside to the wood pile, intent on his early morning chores. He barely noticed as Alys slipped quietly past him and headed toward the stables.

The comforting smell of hay, and the quiet munching of horses greeted Alys, and as she looked around the stables she sensed that she wasn’t alone. A cautious rustle in the darkest corner suggested that someone else was abroad early. Alys waited quietly in the shadows until a sudden noise startled her and looking round she saw the dark shape of William emerge. Gently leading two horses, he greeted Alys with a small nod of acknowledgement.

“Are you ready?” he asked, with a thoughtful smile.

Alys nodded, and held out her hand for the horse's reins, “ Yes. I am ready. Come, let us go.”

As stealthily as they could, the young couple led their horses out of the stables and through the courtyard. Once clear of the manor of Hawkwell, they headed for the nearby village of Neston, and the priest who was, hopefully, waiting for them inside the church.

The sky lightened as they made their way across misty fields, which were sparkling with frost and crackling with ice, and both William and Alys, lost in quiet contemplation, wondered what the day ahead would bring. 

Neston church appeared ghostly in the early morning mist as William and Alys tied their horses to the outside post. Taking Alys gently by the hand, William eased open the ancient wooden door.

A smell of incense, and the honeyed presence of candles, greeted them as they stood in the doorway. The village priest, Father Aldous, was waiting to greet them and quietly led them into the dark interior to stand before the altar to receive God’s blessing on their union.

“Quickly, Father”, urged William, “Our presence at Hawkwell may well be missed by now and Alys shall not be made to wait any longer to be my wife.” 

He smiled, and turning to Alys said quietly, “And as my wife she will be mine forever and safe from harm.”

With careful instruction Father Aldous led William and Alys through their wedding vows and had just pronounced them husband and wife when a disturbance outside the church filtered through the peace of the wedding service. 

The outside door was flung open, and dust motes swirled fiercely, as the burly figure of Thomas Osterley crashed inside, bringing with him a sense of disquiet and more than a hint of urgency. 

“My Lord,” he spluttered, “We had no notion you were gone from Hawkwell until the groom noticed that your horse was missing. Why didn’t you call for me to attend you?” 

“Be at peace, Thomas” said William, “ If I had told you where I was going, then the rest of Hawkwell would have wanted to be here, and this wedding service was just between me, the lady Alys, and God. The wedding celebrations can begin once we are back, but first, let me kiss my wife.”

Returning to Hawkwell as William’s wife was the perfect start to the Yule celebrations and Alys was well aware of how much her role had changed. From today she was no longer the quiet companion to William’s lady mother, but was, at last, William’s bride and the new Lady FitzAllan.

The great hall was now a bustling hive of activity and the heady aroma of roasting meat and scented spices made Alys realise just how hungry she was. Greeted at the door by Ellen, her maid, Alys was quickly taken to her room to wash and freshen her clothing. A sumptuous new gown of amber and gold lay ready for her and she made haste to prepare. With a fine gold chaplet covering her glossy dark hair, Alys was ready to attend her wedding feast.

William Fitzallan watched as his new bride entered the great hall and saw how, with quiet grace, she walked towards him at the high table. William noticed her perfect beauty and the calmness of her spirit but most of all he recognised the aura of love that shone around her and thanked God that on this blessed Cristmasse, in the year of our lord 1117, he had found his own true love.

©Jo Barton, 2017

Jaffa, Timmy and I wish you all a Blessed and Peaceful Christmas