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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

RRR presents... Tall Chimneys by Allie Cresswell - SPOTLIGHT + EXCERPT!

Hi there!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.

Today, we're joining Rachel's Random Resources for a spotlight on title celebrating its BOOK BIRTHDAY this very day!  (*throws confetti*)  It's a work of Historical Fiction with a bewitching cover that makes you wonder just what secrets the house pictured might be hiding.  Curious?  Well then, let's satisfy that curiosity, shall we?  Ladies and gents, feast your eyes on today's title in the spotlight...

Allie Cresswell

About the book...
Considered a troublesome burden, Evelyn Talbot is banished by her family to their remote country house. Tall Chimneys is hidden in a damp and gloomy hollow. It is outmoded and inconvenient but Evelyn is determined to save it from the fate of so many stately homes at the time - abandonment or demolition.

Occasional echoes of tumult in the wider world reach their sequestered backwater - the strident cries of political extremists, a furore of royal scandal, rumblings of the European war machine. But their isolated spot seems largely untouched. At times life is hard - little more than survival. At times it feels enchanted, almost outside of time itself. The woman and the house shore each other up - until love comes calling, threatening to pull them asunder.

Her desertion will spell its demise, but saving Tall Chimneys could mean sacrificing her hope for happiness, even sacrificing herself.

A century later, a distant relative crosses the globe to find the house of his ancestors. What he finds in the strange depression of the moor could change the course of his life forever.
One woman, one house, one hundred years.



~~~ EXCERPT ~~~

Image result for open book

These are the opening words of Tall Chimneys. The first few paragraphs are vitally important to the success of any book. They must engage the reader’s interest and at the same time they must set out the questions that the book will go on to answer. As the house is to be an important narrative force in Tall Chimneys and its main setting, I needed to make sure the reader had a clear idea of its situation. I wanted, also, to establish the close bond that exists between the narrator and Tall Chimneys, which will be at the core of the ensuring events. Alongside that, I wanted to suggest that the relationship is not always a healthy one - we know in the opening sentence, for example, that the narrator feels more at home in the Gatehouse than she did in the house. Why? By the end of the Prologue we know that it will come to a choice between the narrator and her house; only one of them can survive. How this comes about is the subject of the rest of the story.

I have called Tall Chimneys home for as long as I can remember. But in fact this odd little gatehouse, standing sentinel at the top of the forested drive, feels more like home to me than Tall Chimneys ever did.
Tall Chimneys is a Jacobean house, added-to over the years, a wing thrown out here, stables, a gun room and an estate office built at the back, bathrooms squeezed in when proper plumbing became a priority. It stands amid a series of concentric circles. First, of gardens; the gravel walkways, lawns and tended shrubbery in front, the vegetable beds, soft fruit bushes, glasshouses and orchards behind. Then a middle girdle of coniferous and broad-leafed plantation thrown around the whole and rising up the sides of a bowl-like crater, like a lifted skirt. All this is rimmed by the escarpment of a natural depression in the broad-stretched moor.  
The house’s sunken situation was never a happy one. The air within the crater tends to stagnancy; the brisk moor air skims over the bowl without entering it. There is a strong propensity for damp; the lawn is often soggy, the cellar sometimes floods. The chimneys failed to draw for years until some ancestor had the idea of building them higher, making them reach like cathedral pillars into the vault of the sky, out of all proportion to the house.
In one respect only is the house well-placed; it is secluded. Our family annals suggest nocturnal visits of questionable political intriguers, secret stays by Catholic priests, even a visit by the Jacobite pretender, although history disputes this possibility. Its isolation in my lifetime has been both a blessing and a curse.
There is a kinship between Tall Chimneys and me; we are twin souls. I have placed my hands on its masonry in the midst of a storm and the tremors in its architecture have shaken my own foundations.  I have felt the glow of warmth ooze from its ancient stones and seep like sustaining honey into my bones. I have burrowed into the darkest recess of its shelter and teetered perilously on its highest parapet without fear that it would let me fall. I have known love here, and abject sorrow, happiness, and dreadful despair. Tall Chimneys has soaked up my life, and poured out its own, leaving us both derelict.
We belong to a time which has passed, both designed for a life which is obsolete in these modern days, and although we have done our best to accommodate and adapt, our efforts have been outstripped by progress. We are calcifying, here, in this peculiar cauldron scooped from the prehistoric bog of ancient moor; we are petrified relics of an era long gone.  And any little dramas we have enacted in our secret amphitheatre have been private and contained, and have caused no echo in the world at large.
I have tried to save Tall Chimneys, and if my feeble aid could have sustained its ailing stonework, I would have left nothing wanting.  Almost nothing. But our ways seem destined to part, now. If one of us is to survive, the other must be allowed to fall.


About the author...

Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.  She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.  She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.  She has two grown-up children, one granddaughter and two grandsons, is married to Tim and lives in Cumbria, NW England.

Tall Chimneys is the sixth of her novels to be published.



Special thanks to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources for the chance to bring this tour to you.  (THANKS!)  For more information on this title, the author, THIS TOUR, or those on the horizon, feel free to click through the links provided above.  This title is available now, so click on over to Amazon to snag your copy now!  Be sure to check out the other sites on the tour for more bookish fun!

Until next time, remember...if it looks good, READ IT!

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