I’m delighted to host today’s stop on the blog tour for The Farm Girl’s Dream by Eileen Ramsay. In this new edition, published to coincide with the launch of online saga community Memory Lane, you can find new and exclusive content from Eileen, including recipes featured in the novel for you to make at home, and extracts from forthcoming novels from Eileen. Memory Lane is a place for readers to share memories, photographs and stories from their own families’ history and discover the very best of saga writing from authors old and new.
For a taste of this wonderful family saga, enjoy the extract from The Farm Girl’s Dream below.
Plus, fans of Eileen will be pleased to know that her book, A Pinch Of Salt, is re-released in paperback later this summer.
About the Book
Publisher’s description: In the spring of 1900, Victoria Cameron is born on her absent father’s farm, on the day her namesake, the Queen, turns 81. Victoria thinks her home in Angus is the most beautiful place on earth and she wishes nothing more than to stay on her little farm for ever. But the death of her beloved grandfather leaves her and her mother without a farm and struggling to make ends meet. Never one to give up, Victoria soon finds work in a Dundee mill, while her mother supports them by taking in lodgers. Neither ever expected one of those lodgers would be John Cameron, the father that walked out on them so many years ago. Victoria is torn about how to receive this stranger, and torn about the other man in her life – a young boy she thinks she could love if only he comes back from the war.
|Publication:||15th June 2017||Genre:||Historical Romance|
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Find The Farm Girl’s Dream on Goodreads
Extract: The Farm Girl’s Dream by Eileen Ramsay
To the end of her life, Victoria could recall Grampa as he polished their coats before hitching them up to the carriages, which local children took on their annual Sunday school picnics.
‘That’s it, hen, good lass. Aye, that’s ma own good lass.’
Sometimes he would hoist Victoria up and put her on the broad back of a large horse. She would clutch the mane with her little hands and look down, down from the broad, gleaming shoulders of the horse to the ground so far, so very far below; and she would look into Jock’s whiskered face and she would laugh. Fear? She did not know the meaning of the word, not with Grampa there, with his strong brown hands.
Did the sun always shine in the years before the war? There must have been rain and snow, but Victoria’s memories were full of sun-filled days, days when she would wander out of the farmyard and follow one of the drystane dykes to the burn. There were two stiles between the house and the burn. Years later she could still feel the sense of adventure that she experienced each time she climbed a stile and wandered farther away from her mother. She never went too far, though, for in later years she recalled that she had always been able to see the house.
Her mother worked the whole day long. Everything in the house, including Victoria, was scrubbed to within an inch of its life. Like the linens, Victoria was also starched and ironed.
Mamma baked, preserved, cured and dressed, and in the evenings she sewed and mended, knitted beautiful woollens for the three of them and somehow found time to do exquisite embroidery.
Her day of rest was Sunday, and so Sunday was Victoria’s favourite day of the week. Jock would hitch two of the Clydesdales to the carriage, and everyone, masters and maids, stiff and starched in their Sunday best, would set off for their beautiful little country church.
But it was the time after the traditional huge Sunday midday dinner that Victoria relished. It was then that she and Grampa would escape. For this truancy they had a beautiful little phaeton, which was always pulled by the Scottish Maid, the lightest of the Clydesdales, and off they would go, Grampa in his black frock-coat and hat and the child stiff and starched in her pinafore and best Leghorn hat.
There was not a nook or cranny in Angus that they left undiscovered. The old man was never loquacious, but their silences were companionable. Every now and again he would say, ‘Whoa, maid. Whoa, ma lass,’ and together old man and young child would sit and drink in the view. Wherever it was, there were always trees somewhere in the landscape.
‘Breathe deep, Victoria,’ he would say, ‘there’s no air in the world to match this. It’s a perfect walnut shell day.’
The little girl looked up at him with those clear, grey-blue eyes – Mattie’s eyes. It was bearable to think of them as Mattie’s eyes.
‘What’s a walnut shell day, Grampa?’
‘A day that’s beautiful because you’re with the person you love most in all the world. Everything is so perfect that you want to keep it for ever, so you put it in a walnut shell and save it for the days when nothing is good. Then, my wee Victoria, you take it out and all the joy and peace is there just as you remembered it. Oh, my wee Victoria, is life not hard at times, and does that not make these walnut shell days a’ the mair precious?’
He looked gently down at the much-loved child and knew that she did not really understand.
Momentarily his heart sank – for Jock Cameron knew that, in time, God love her, she would know only too well what he meant.
‘Let there be plenty of walnut shell days for her, Lord,’ he prayed, and for months afterwards he would save walnut shells for Victoria to attempt to fill.
About the Author
Eileen was brought up in the South-West of Scotland. She wrote from the age of seven but decided become a teacher. After graduating she went to teach in the USA for a year – and stayed 18 years. She married Ian Ramsay, a Scottish mathematics scientist working on the first moon shots and they had two children before returning to their native Scotland. Eileen’s writing for children and adults has won several awards, including the Constable and Pitlochry trophies from the Scottish Association of Writers and the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Elizabeth Goudge Award. In 2004 she was short listed for the Romantic Novel of the Year award.
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