Hello sunshines, I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this amazing blog tour, for The Child From The Ash Pits by Chrissie Walsh. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to write up my review of this beautiful book before the blog tour, which I apologise for and my review will come later, but I do have an amazing excerpt for you all to fall in love with, so sit back and enjoy.
About the Book
In the aftermath of the General Strike, times are tough for coal miners and their families. Can little Cally break free from poverty, and forge a successful life for herself?
When Cally loses her beloved mum, she hopes her father will comfort and protect her. But instead she soon acquires a cruel and vengeful stepmother, and Cally begins to fear that she is on her own.
Through uncomfortable years in service, to a terrifying brush with the streets, through hard work and determination, Cally finally finds a place for herself. She even trusts enough in the future to create her own family, despite being so cruelly abandoned by her own.
At last in a place of peace and contentment, Cally has all she ever hoped for, but with World War 2 looming, how long can she hold on to the people she loves?
Taking us from 1926 all the way to end of the Second World War, Chrissie Walsh has written a heart-breaking tale of love and survival, perfect for fans of Dilly Court and Lyn Andrews.
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Footsteps in the yard had Cally running from behind the ash pits to see who it was. Cissie Sheard, the midwife, was standing outside number eleven. Cally ran faster; her dad would have to let her in if she was with Cissie.
‘Hello Cally, luv; I’ve just come to check on your Mam. See if that babby’s ready to be born. How is she?’
Cally didn’t answer. She couldn’t.
Cissie rapped the door and then tried the sneck. ‘It’s locked,’ said Cally. Cissie looked puzzled. Pounding feet thundered down the stairs and George opened the door, his eyes wild and his face gaunt. Seeing Cissie with Cally, he struggled to gain composure.
‘Oh, thank God it’s you, Cissie. Ada’s taken a bit of a tumble, she…’ He ran out of words, his lips flapping soundlessly as he feverishly searched his pockets for a packet of Woodbine and a box of matches. He lit a cigarette, then said, ‘Annie’s up there wi’ her.’
Cissie headed for the stairs. In the bedroom she gazed with concern at her patient. Ada gazed back through glazed eyes, her face an agonised rictus. Cissie glared at Annie. ‘Have you sent for t’doctor?’
Annie shook her head. ‘She only fell a minute or two ago.’
Cissie let out a roar. ‘George! George! Run for Dr Blackstock; tell him it’s urgent.’
George, halfway up the stairs, turned tail and ran.
Cally knew something was terribly wrong; the house smelt of fear and panic. Annie clattered down into the kitchen. ‘What’s wrong with my mam?’ Cally pleaded.
‘She’s having the baby,’ said Annie, setting the kettle to boil, then smearing dripping on a slice of bread. Forcing the sandwich into Cally’s hand, she added, ‘either that or she’s dying.’ With a callous smirk she headed for the stairs.
The sandwich fell to the hearth, unnoticed. Did mams die having babies? Cally didn’t know of any that had. What would she do if her mam died? She shuddered violently, the shaking sensation galvanising her into action. She raced upstairs.
John Blackstock set aside the syringe he had just used to inject the phenobarbitone that might save his patient’s life. He glanced from Ada to Cissie, shaking his head despairingly.
On the landing Cally slowed her pace, tip-toeing to the open bedroom door. Ada lay pallid and fretful, the pathetic moans escaping her feverish lips making Cally think of ghosts. She let out a frightened wail. ‘Is my mam dying?’
Cissie whirled round. ‘Go downstairs like a good girl,’ she snapped.
Stationed in the corner opposite the stairs door, Cally watched Cissie and Annie clatter up and down carrying bowls of hot water and towels. She listened as Dr Blackstock and George held an urgent, whispered conference in the kitchen before hurrying back upstairs. And she listened when George and Annie stood at the foot of the stairs whispering angrily at each other, thinking nobody was within earshot. But Cally understood none of it.
The minutes ticked by and no one took any notice of her: Cissie and the doctor were too busy trying to save the lives of their patient and her unborn child, and George and Annie were each wrapped in their own thoughts. After what, to Cally, seemed ages, George stalked out into the yard, a cigarette clamped between his lips: he neither looked at nor spoke to her.
Upstairs John Blackstock wiped his hands on the cloth Cissie handed him, failure accentuating his haggard features. ‘Pre-eclampsia,’ he muttered, his tone heavy with despair, ‘we couldn’t have saved her, and the foetus is dead. Get the husband.’
George turned expectantly as Cissie called across the yard to him. Her face told him all he needed to know. His shoulders slumped and a great sob forced its way up from his throat. Like a savagely beaten dog he slunk back into the house and followed Cissie up to the bedroom.
He stood beside the bed like a man of stone, gazing long and hard at Ada, and when the doctor walked across the room and shook his hand George knew he had lost the one and only woman he had ever truly loved; the mother of his little girl. He fell to his knees, clutching at Ada’s inert body, weeping as though demented. Cissie gently prised him away.
‘Leave her be, lad,’ she said, her voice thick with unshed tears. ‘She’s gone; she’ll suffer no more. There’s no babby, an’ that in itself’s a blessing for it wouldn’t have been right had it been born. You’ve got one lovely little lass. See that you mind her now her mam’s gone.’
George walked from the room without a backward glance. Out in the yard he gazed up at the darkening sky.
What had he done
About the Author
Born and raised in West Yorkshire, Chrissie trained to be a singer and cellist before becoming a teacher. When she married her trawler skipper husband, they moved to a little fishing village in N. Ireland. Chrissie is passionate about history and that passion and knowledge shine through in her writing. The Girl from the Mill is her debut novel.
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