If you’re looking for a summer read to take with on your holidays this year, here’s your chance to win a copy of the new historical fiction from Emma Fraser, author of The Ship Builder’s Daughter.
Emma Fraser’s extraordinary life has permeated into her books. She emigrated to Africa with her Gaelic-speaking parents when she was nine years old and remembers lying in bed and listening to her father playing the bagpipes. She returned to the Western Isles of Scotland years later and went on to qualify as a nurse, working in Edinburgh and Glasgow before leaving to study English Literature at Aberdeen University. Emma began writing when her daughters started school and she has published three historical novels, two of which were shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award. Her third book, The Shipbuilder's Daughter, was inspired by, as always, true events - this time by the Glasgow shipyards where her grandfather once worked.
Her new novel, publishing on 9th August by Sphere in paperback for £7.99, takes us back to Scotland once more, with a tale full of twisting turns, love and loss and secrets that must be revealed before time runs out.
In 1939, Nine-year-old Olivia Friel is delighted to be spending the summer at Greyfriars House, a place where her parents, their family and friends are always happy. But this year there's an underlying tension that Olivia doesn't understand. Then one night she sees something she's not meant to, and accidentally lets slip a devastating betrayal. In 1984, Charlotte Friel, a successful lawyer and modern woman gets a call from her ailing mother, asking something she's never asked before: for Charlotte to come home. There are things Olivia needs to tell her daughter before it's too late, secrets to be shared about forgotten relatives and a mysterious house. Left reeling by recent events, Charlotte is unsure what path to follow. But eventually her curiosity, and a desire to escape her own life, lead her to Greyfriars House.
Be swept up in the wonders of Greyfriars House, where history will meet with the present and family secrets will be unearthed, with shattering consequences.
Question: Greyfriars House is set on a beautiful fictional Scottish island, but which actual Scottish island is situated between Canna and Eigg?
Greyfriars House is published by Sphere in paperback for £7.99 on 9th August.
The house looms behind me, grey and forbidding in the moonlight. From the turret window a light flickers so briefly I can’t be sure I saw it. Ever since I arrived on the island I have had the sensation I am being watched, that someone wants me gone. But I no longer trust my senses. There is so much that is strange about Greyfriars.
It is very still. As if the island is holding its breath. I move towards the shore. What my great- aunt has told me so far has shaken me. And there is more to come. More secrets to be revealed. I am not sure I can bear to hear them.
As I pick my way along the rough path I think regretfully of the torch left behind in the porch. But I persevere, wanting to put distance between me and the house. The moon and stars provide just enough light although every now and again scudding clouds obscure them and I am momentarily plunged into darkness.
I continue through the trees, innocuous in the daytime, but in the shifting darkness as sinister as watching sentinels. Then at last I am in the open again, the sea, glittering in the moonlight, stretching in front of me. I suck in lungfuls of salty air and my pulse slows.
A rustle comes from the copse behind me and my heart kicks as I whirl around. Something has moved within the shadows. I think of the ghostly presences my mother told me about, then immediately dismiss the thought with an impatient click of my tongue. The only ghosts are the ones in my head. Some placed there by Georgina, others of my own making.
Tiger has run off and I can hear the cracking of branches as she sniffs amongst the piles of rotting leaves. A shape swoops over my head and I smother a cry. A flutter and a flash. It is just the owl that roosts in the eaves, returning with a mouse trapped in its beak.
It isn’t just the house that unsettles me, or the two women within, it is me, the way I feel inside. Untethered and adrift. A boat without an anchor at the mercy of the wind and tide. I’d told myself I’d come here to find answers although I knew, deep down, I was fleeing from the world, my grief, my guilt, from having to make a decision about the rest of my life. Tiger growls. She has emerged from the bushes and is standing in front of the copse of trees, her ears up, her tail rigid behind her. The hair on the back of my neck stands on end. I know she is there before I see her. The figure emerges from the shadows, her face hidden. I have seen her before. Edith sleepwalking, I’ve been told.
I no longer believe it.