Rebecca’s Choice: Coffee Pot Book Club Tour.
‘Can Rebecca find the love and passion she craves within a Victorian world that seems to be conspiring against her?’
It is 1887 and Queen Victoria is on the throne. Businessman and meteorologist Geoffrey de Roussier is passionate about his weather station and railways, yet little of his passion seems to filter through to his shy, naïve young wife, Rebecca.
Following his tragic demise, Rebecca discovers that Geoffrey’s railroad investments have failed, leaving her penniless. As the past threatens to engulf her, Rebecca realises she has to make a choice. Gwilym Llewellyn, Geoffrey’s trusted friend and advisor, has an emotional debt to repay to Geoffrey and meets Rebecca to offer her a solution. Meanwhile Rebecca has found passion in another direction …
One man will save her from destitution, the other will offer her the love and excitement that she aches for. Whom will she choose?
This book has a beautiful setting in Cardiff, South Wales. If you like a good mix of an evocative depiction of the Victorian era and a modern-thinking heroine then Rebecca’s Choice is the novel for you.
This is Heidi Gallacher’s debut novel, a compelling historical Victorian romance. Pick up ‘Rebecca’s Choice’ today to lose yourself in this wonderful story!
Grey clouds cast shadows over the garden as I stand at the parlour window watching Geoffrey leave his beloved Tredelerch for the last time. A whiff of lavender lingers. I stare at the pallbearers as they stoop to place Geoffrey in the carriage, near to his little weather station. Geoffrey’s observatory – how he had loved his hobby. The instruments had been his toys, his playthings. Rain gauges, hygrometers, barometers. I blink as a stray sunbeam illuminates the building through the mist.
The men are finished now, and the black lacquered carriage stutters forward. Once the four horses pull the carriage away through the gates of Tredelerch, Geoffrey, my husband, is gone. My heart pounds; I feel light-headed.
I run upstairs and throw myself onto my bed. How will I ever manage without him? Oh Geoffrey, why did you have to drink so much that night? Perhaps you would still be here with us if you hadn’t. I clench my fists. How dare you leave me like this with a huge house to run!I feel afraid, but I know I have to carry on for the sake of my children.
I lie for a while and then force myself to go downstairs, trying to focus my thoughts on the afternoon’s gathering. The men will be tired and hungry after the service and burial.
I catch my breath as my children enter the parlour. John is the image of his father in both aspect and expression. Enid shares Geoffrey’s startling blue eyes.
The doorbell chimes, and children turn tail and run down the hallway to greet their grandmother.
She moves towards me with concern etched upon her features. She takes my hands in her gloved ones. ‘Oh my dear, oh my poor, poor girl…’
‘Mother, I am so grateful that you are here.’ I rest my head on her shoulder and listen to the soft rhythm of her breathing. I close my eyes and think of how she comforted me after the death of my father. I had been a young girl then. I am now twenty-eight years old, but I still need her calmness, her wisdom. Once we part, she hands her coat to Dodds.
I turn to her. ‘Come with me to the kitchen, for we must check the preparations. John, would you play with Enid in the nursery?’
As the children scamper off, we enter the kitchen to be startled by a burst of steam and heat. I smell cinnamon, spices and cloves when lifting the lid of the huge, simmering pan.
Mother turns to me. ‘How many are to be expected?’
‘I don’t know exactly, but there will be quite a few in mourning for Geoffrey. There are distant relatives coming as well as neighbours and friends… I think we should expect around a hundred.’
I glance around the kitchen. Our cook Clara is taking good care of the ham and Millie the maid is chopping turnips and carrots. We close the door and walk to the reception room. Thomas, who hasn’t been with us for long, is arranging goblets in rows and uncorking bottles of velvet-coloured wine. He looks up as we appear.
‘I think it’s all ready, ma’am.’
I walk to the wall and straighten a picture, one of Geoffrey’s favourites. I step back and observe it, an oil painting of his beloved weather station. ‘Yes, you’ve done well, Thomas. You may go and join the gentlemen at the church.’
The mourners file into the reception room with the slow pace of respect, murmuring what they feel is necessary in the circumstances. Life with my husband had not been easy in the months before the tragedy, yet I find some of their kind words move me. I stand in widow’s weeds and wipe my eyes. My white silk handkerchief is edged with thick black lace.
Peering through the groups of grievers, I can see warm streaks of amber and yellow flickering above the hearth. The stark lines of the distant mantelpiece now and then appear curvy through rising shimmers of heat.
‘That’s a fine fire you have glowing in the grate, Rebecca.’ Owen Jenkins stands before me, following my gaze.
I turn to look at him, seeing the sympathy in his eyes. I swallow. ‘You must be freezing, Owen, after the service. Come, let us go and warm ourselves over by the hearth.’
He starts to move towards the glow. I follow him as he threads his way through the huddles of mourners. Snatches of conversation whisper by as I weave my way through.
‘…Such a pity, he seemed full of health when I last saw him.’
‘…Yes, it’s true, Geoffrey loved his weather station. I wonder who will take it on now.’
‘…Gwilym told me that things had taken a turn for the worse…’
‘…Tragic, just tragic. I heard it was due to the drink.’
Owen pauses to talk to a mourner. Words and thoughts swirl inside my head as I reach the fire and stretch out my numb fingers.
‘Could I serve you something, ma’am?’ The voice is deep and self-assured.
I whirl around. I feel deceived as I see it is a young man standing by the walnut drinks cabinet proffering red wine. I notice the flecks of amber within his gentle green eyes. His hair is blond, softly curling.
‘Your butler has just left the room.’
‘Oh…oh, thank you. It is a little early perhaps, but, yes, I would like some.’
He deftly pours the wine into two glasses and offers me one. As his warm fingers brush against mine, it comes to me that I have met him once before.
I take the glass. ‘Thank you. I…I believe we have met before… You were a student of my husband?’
‘Yes. My name is Reece–—’
‘Reece Lyons. I remember now.’ In truth, I had never forgotten his kindness to me.
There is a short silence that is broken by his gentle cough. ‘Could I take the opportunity to express my deepest sympathies for your loss.’
I thank him and turn to another guest who is asking for my attention. When I look back towards the fire later, I see that he is gone.
Praise for Rebecca’s Choice
Rebecca’s Choice was awarded 5 stars and is a Recommended Read by The Coffee Pot Book Club. The book was awarded a Bronze Medal for Debut Novel 2020 by The Coffee Pot Book Club.
‘This is a story that is utterly beguiling from the opening sentence to the very last full stop.’ – Author Mary Anne Yarde
‘The historical details are so skilfully woven in that the reader steps with ease into the late 19th century.’ – Author Liz Harris
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Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07ZTVZ1XG
Heidi Gallacher was born in London in the Sixties. She grew up in Cardiff and Swansea, South Wales. She jumped at the chance to move to Paris in her twenties to learn a new language and culture.
Following the arrival of her first son she moved to sunny Switzerland where she has lived ever since.
She completed her Masters in Creative Writing in 2018 and her first short story Changing Places was published in September of that year. Rebecca’s Choice is her first novel.
When not writing, Heidi writes and performs music, swims in Lake Zürich and fundraises for a school in Tanzania.
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