Where the Gulls Fall Silent: Coffee Pot Book Club Blog Tour
A small fishing village, a shunned healer, her daughter, tradition, superstition and a world set to change.
Kerensa lives with her mother, the healer Meliora, on the edge of a small fishing community on the Cornish Coast.
The townsfolk, who work the fish runs of pilchard and mackerel that make their way up the Atlantic coast, call on her mother for help with their ailments, but never for her company.
Kerensa does not know why.
Curses and superstitions whisper around her as she grows into a competent young woman, fighting for her place amongst the people of Porth Gwynn.
But what has caused the rift between her and the town?
And can their traditional way of life survive in the face of changing winds?
Where the Gulls Fall Silent is an historical fiction that explores the lives of the fishermen and women who made their living from the rough Atlantic Ocean; the hardship they faced; the secrets that divided them; and the community spirit that pulled them through.
A story of love, loss, hope and second chances.
Adult themes, mentioned sexual assault
The oars rubbed against his calloused hands, the sun beat down on his browned forearms, the salt-spray speckled his strengthening beard.
“Aft, Rewan!” Braneh bellowed across the inlet.
“Aft,” Rewan repeated to his crew, his own brothers Gerens and Cardor and his friend Kenver.
Their cox Jory called the stroke,“Right and pull.”
Rewan swung his right oar in a grand arch, matched by his mates and the boat turned, lining up with his father’s craft on the far side. Before them rowed two larger boats, crewed by Braneh, Carowen, Jago, Peren and Madern and his sons. Coming together in a roughly-shaped square, Braneh called the timing.
“Hold, watch the school. Hold,” hand raised, eyes scanning the splashing waves, “Drop!” Braneh cried.
The large seine net of woven cotton plunged into the water, the far end weighted down by stones sinking the net to the bay floor.
“Drop the stop-net!” Braneh called.
Rewan and Gerens sprang into action, loosing their smaller webbing over the side to seal off the seine.
“Capstans!” Braneh cried, waving his arms above his head, to the men awaiting his signal on the shore, long ropes leading from them to the seine in hand. The men began to pull, the seine tugged together condensing the space inside, herding the pilchards within.
“Go,” Rewan cried. Jory took up the count, “Heave and heave…”
His crew and three other boats made their way inside the waters now cordoned off by the seine and loosed the tuck-net between them. Carefully rowing in closer and closer together the boats formed a circle around the school. The fish, now sensing the trap and feeling the net coming in around them, began to splash and flap along the surface of the water, silver scales catching the sun.
“Let’s get ‘em lads,” Rewan grinned.
Stowing their oars the fishermen took up their baskets and leaned over the side of the boat, slipping the baskets into the water and under the mass of squirming fish, scooping them out and into the boat to flop and gasp at their feet. Again and again they dipped the baskets bringing up mound after mound of slippery pilchards, flapping wildly as they fought for their lives. A few managed to wiggle free, but not for long.
The men worked fast and methodically, collecting up the slippery school. Then, boats full, Rewan waved to his father.
“Release and haul!” Braneh called. The men at the far end pulled up their netting. Rewan and his crew took up oars and began to stroke their way to the shore. The capstans met them to help pull the boats up the beach. The women, holding large baskets between pairs, came ready to collect the fish and carry them up the ramp to the sheds for processing. Off to the side, a few older men and women waded in the shallows with their smaller nets, working in circles to catch the fish that slipped around the seine or were washed to shore by the currents of the bay.
Working as one the town cleared the catch, hauling the baskets of pilchards, now flopping slower, weaker, from the beach. The final fish taken from his boat Rewan looked up towards the cliff top, watching for the huer to see if they would be called to sea again for another round.
The breeze dried the salt of sweat and sea on his brow, and hands on hips he stood, breathing deeply.
Then he saw her.
Coming down the cliff-side, a basket of herbs against her hip as she slowly traversed the decline. She swayed elegantly, sure-footed despite the pronounced limp.
His heart beat faster though he was now at rest, his tummy churning with excitement. He didn’t know when the change had come, when she had stopped being a pestering younger child and morphed into a creature that could control his heart. It had crept up on him, and with it a distance had grown between them. The easy company of their days playing chase on the sands replaced with a shy hesitancy.
He didn’t care what people said, had heard the talk of a curse: that her birth was an ill-omen, a promise of doom. But he knew that talk for what it was: superstitious fear.
The truth was that Kerensa was beautiful, and skilled. Had always been, even as an annoying slip of a child who’d never let him win a game of capture the flag. The corner of Rewan’s mouth hitched up in amusement at the memory; the little girl, eyes fierce and determined, too proud to take the pasty… That light still shone within her. A strength that would not be thwarted.
And he wasn’t the only one who saw it, of that he was sure. His was not the only heart that beat for Kerensa Williams.
“… I said, come on sailor! The Huer’s waving!”
Rewan looked down at his younger brother. Cardor, slight with youth, the first fuzz of hair shading his upper lip, followed the line of his brother’s gaze. Grinning knowingly he elbowed Rewan in the ribs. “Fish won’t wait!” he cried running down the beach to their boat waiting patiently on her side.
“But will she?” Rewan whispered to himself. Indulging in one last glance up at Kerensa’s soft silhouette, he shook his head. Focus, he told himself and hurried down to join his crew.
Available on #KindleUnlimited
Lelita Baldock is an author of historical fiction and crime fiction.
She has a passion for dark stories, with an unexpected twist.
It was during her years studying English Literature at University that Lelita discovered her love of all things reading and writing. But it would be another 15 years before she would take up the challenge and write her own novel.
Her debut novel, the historical fiction Widow’s Lace, is an Amazon best-seller.
Her follow up, The Unsound Sister, saw her take a different direction in her writing, trying her hand at crime fiction and has been warmly received globally.
Her third novel, Where the Gulls Fall Silent, a traditional historical fiction set in mid-1800s Cornwall, is out now.
Lelita also runs a blog and newsletter featuring fellow authors and other creatives.
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