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Wednesday 12 June 2024

My Coffee Pot Book Club tour guest: Nancy Jardine - Novice Threads

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About the Book
Book Title: Novice Threads
Series: Silver Sampler Series 
Author: Nancy Jardine
Publication Date: 15th May 2024
Publisher: Nancy Jardine with Ocelot Press
Page Length: 356
Genre: Victorian Scotland Saga / Historical Fiction / Women’s Fiction

A thirst for education.  Shattered dreams. Fragile relations.

1840s Scotland

Being sent to school is the most exhilarating thing that’s ever happened to young Margaret Law. She sharpens her newly-acquired education on her best friend, Jessie Morison, till Jessie is spirited away to become a scullery maid. But how can Margaret fulfil her visions of becoming a schoolteacher when her parents’ tailoring and drapery business suddenly collapses and she must find a job?

Salvation from domestic drudgery – or never-ending seamstress work – comes via Jessie whose employer seeks a tutor for his daughter. Free time exploring Edinburgh with Jessie is great fun, but increasing tension in the household claws at Margaret’s nerves. 

Margaret also worries about her parents' estrangement, and the mystery of Jessie's unknown father.

When tragedy befalls the household in Edinburgh, Margaret must forge a new pathway for the future – though where will that be?

Buy Links:

This title is available to read on #Kindle Unlimited. 

Universal Buy Link: 

About the Author :

Nancy writes historical and contemporary fiction. 1st Century Roman Britain is the setting of her Celtic Fervour Series. Victorian and Edwardian history has sneaked into two of her ancestry-based contemporary mysteries, and her current Silver Sampler Series is set in Victorian Scotland.

Her novels have achieved Finalist status in UK book competitions (People's Book Prize; Scottish Association of Writers) and have received prestigious Online Book Awards.

Published with Ocelot Press, writing memberships include – Historical Novel Society; Romantic Novelists Association; Scottish Association of Writers; Federation of Writers Scotland; Alliance of Independent Authors.

Author Links:

Book Bub: 
Amazon Author Page: 


Read An Excerpt

The Interview.

“Close the door!” The tone of voice brooked no alternatives.

Doing as bid, Margaret then turned back to her interrogator.

“I know that Jessie has been writing to you, so I am sure that she will have explained some of Rachel’s situation. I have seen your letters which means I know that you write reasonably well, and your penmanship passes muster.”

Margaret was almost shocked into making a reply. Her letters were for Jessie to read, not for anyone else!

The dreadful woman droned on. “You should know now that it is my husband who is the one who has decided that Rachel needs to continue her education. I fail to see why, since the doctors we have consulted give no indications that she can ever lead a normal life. But since he insists, I therefore have particular requirements for the person filling this post.”

Margaret wasn’t sure what Mistress Duncan could mean. The woman was so cold and calculating when speaking of her own daughter. However, she hoped her expression didn’t show any of her uncertainties.

“You already know that the successful candidate will continue with Rachel’s education. She had barely started her schooling when this disaster descended upon us. I would teach her the basics myself, but I have her little sister Elspeth to look after every day.”

Margaret bent her head slightly in acknowledgement, her gaze fixed on the woman whom she had hoped would be her employer, though now she wasn’t so sure she could work for such an unfeeling woman. She also wondered where little Elspeth was, because the child was not in the parlour.

Mistress Duncan continued; her fern-green eyes brittle. “Since Rachel tires very easily, her lessons across in the parlour will need to be much shorter than in a normal school classroom. I have absolutely no intention of paying for a tutor to be idle in between those teaching times. As such, I will expect other household tasks to be undertaken during Rachel’s naps. Is that understood by you?”

Margaret bit down a huge wave of disappointment. Had she come all the way to Edinburgh to do the kind of skivvy job that her father had sought to prevent her from doing? Though, what alternative did she have but to agree to the conditions? The travel to get to Edinburgh had been long, and she had no intention of going back to Milnathort to work in a mill.

“I understand,” she answered in as steady a voice as she could manage, banishing the crushing apprehension.

“Good. See that you do. Also know that you are here on a trial basis for one month. During this period, you will not be paid but you will be provided with a bed and two cooked meals per day. Our cook, Mistress Abernethy, does not have a live-in position but she feeds our staff when she is on duty in the kitchen preparing the family meals three times a day. If, at the end of the month, you prove to be suitable – and naturally if Rachel enjoys her lessons with you – we will then discuss an annual remuneration.”

What could she answer? Jessie had been unable to share any of these conditions in her letter, but staying in Milnathort was likely to be much worse. Margaret wasn’t sure right that moment if Mistress Duncan was hoping, or even expecting, that Rachel would dislike her and the tutoring.

Her mind whirled. It seemed that time was standing still as she stared at the callous woman who expected an answer from her. And yet, as Jessie had cautioned, she couldn’t be too effusive in response to this awful person.

The lease for the shop in Milnathort was due to change hands within the month, it being in a lucrative location, but her father would make very little profit from selling off his remaining stock to the new draper. William and Peggy were looking for a house to rent, but housing in Milnathort was in short supply.

A conversation from the previous evening flashed through her mind.

‘Your father contacted your uncle when he realised our situation was so bad,” her mother had said. “James’ reply came this morning. There might be an opening for your father to return to do tailoring for him.’

Her father’s elder brother lived in the town of Perth, but she’d barely seen Uncle James during the years of her growing up. Contact was infrequent – a brief New Year greeting, or information of some distant relative having died. A letter had come the previous year when James’ wife had died giving birth to their fourth child. The baby had also been poorly and had slipped into death within days of its mother. William had gone off to the funeral, leaving Peggy to run the shop on her own.

On her mother’s side, there were a few Wylie relatives in Milnathort, but none of them could offer any of them a bed. Banishing her panicked thoughts, Margaret prayed that her reply would sound positive, and wasn’t displaying her inner fears.

“Thank you, Mistress Duncan.”

“My husband and I have talked about how you should be named in the household. Were you a proper governess there would be no issue over you being called Miss Law. You are not a governess, and as you are still so young, you will be addressed by your first name, similar to Jessie and our housemaid, Kate. However, Mistress Abernethy, our cook, is always referred to by her title. Is that clear?

Follow the tour:
Twitter Handle: @nansjar @cathiedunn
Instagram Handle: @nansjar2023 @thecoffeepotbookclub

Hashtags: #VictorianSaga #HistoricalFiction #Scotland #WomensFiction #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub

Tour Schedule Page: 

(note: Helen has not yet read the book herself)

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  1. Thank you, Helen, for featuring the excerpt from Novice Threads today! It's very much appreciated and it's always a pleasure to visit you.

    1. My pleasure Nancy - and thank you for saying thank you!

  2. Thank you so much for hosting Nancy Jardine today, with a fabulous excerpt from Novice Threads.

    Take care,
    Cathie xx
    The Coffee Pot Book Club


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