Author Topic: I would like feedback please 1039 words  (Read 160 times)

Offline katarina66

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I would like feedback please 1039 words
« on: October 07, 2021, 07:01:36 AM »
Here is the first chapter of my latest novel. I would love some feedback on it please.


‘Have you heard the latest?’ Annie Reid marched into the manse kitchen where her mother sat by the large, black-enamelled range. She pulled off her jacket and hung it on the back of a chair.

Isa set down her knitting and moved the kettle to the hottest part of the range. ‘What’s the latest that’s got you in such a fluster?’ she asked. Isa was always ready to hear the ‘latest’.

As the island nurse, Annie privy to all the gossip, but she was careful what she passed on, even to her mother.
‘Jeannie Sinclair’s having a bairn!’

Isa stopped, her hand suspended over the tea-caddy and turned open-mouthed to stare at her daughter. ‘What? Never!’ She let out a puff of air.

‘Aye, and Ina McAndrew took a fair bit of pleasure in letting me know. Says she’s as big as a house, so it’s no far off. And you know what else?’

Isa didn’t move.

‘Nick’s saying there’s no way I’ll get anywhere near his wife. That I’ve probably slept my way to a fake nursing degree.  He’ll be taking Jeannie to the mainland to Doctor Mack, and he’s already booked her into the hospital for the delivery. And thank God for that.’

‘That’s for the best, isn’t it?’ said Isa, and began spooning the tea into the teapot. ‘No twice brewed tea the day, rationing or not.’

‘Of course it’s best,’ said Annie. She didn’t want to go anywhere near Scartongarth as long as those two lived there, let alone attend to Nick Sinclair’s wife.

‘Where’s Dee?’ she asked of her six year old son.

 ‘He’s away out with Gandpa Donald to do a bit of visiting. He’s a real favourite with all the old biddies.’

‘Annie,’ Isa’s voice was careful. ‘All this about Scartongarth, do you not think it’s time to let it go?’

‘Living with a minister’s fair changing your outlook on life. I suppose he would say forgive and turn the other cheek. But I don’t believe you’ve forgotten,’ said Annie, taking a seat at the heavy, mahogany table.

‘No, I’ve not forgotten any of it. But Donald’s right. Furthermore, you’ve told me you want to take Dee to the mainland when he’s older. You want something better for him than being a crofter or a fisherman, so even if we did own Scartongarth what could we do with it?’

‘It’s the principle. He cheated us out of our inheritance, and the way he treated Bel and….’ Her voice petered out. She didn’t want to talk about the sickly baby that she had loved and cared for, but in the end, could not save.  The death of both mother and child and the helplessness she had experienced then had created a desire to become a nurse.

She remembered coming face to face with Nick Sinclair when she returned to the island with her degree and promised position as the first state registered nurse on Raumsey. It had been years since she had last seen him and the years had not been kind to him.

‘So you’re back,’ he’d said, his dangerous blue eyes ranging over her body, still making her crawl as much as they had as a young girl.

‘I’m back,’ she said drily, and pushed past him, trying to ignore the self-satisfied sneer on his face when his eyes fell on her body, already swollen with child.

‘And no man,’ he added and gave a small, derogatory laugh. She gave him a look of ice. Maybe it wasn’t his fault that his first wife, Annie’s cousin, had died in child birth, but the way he had treated her was reprehensible. 
Since then she had done her best to stay out of the way of both him and his new wife, and prayed that they would never need her services. But in a small community it was impossible not to meet face to face at some point, and to Annie’s utter surprise and, the surprise of quite a few others, Nick Sinclair and his wife began to attend church.
‘Nice to see you here,’ said the Reverend Donald Charleston as he shook their hands after the service.

‘We’ll be getting the bairn christened,’ Nick replied, a wide grin across his face. ‘We thought we’d better make it right with him upstairs,’ he indicated the sky above, ‘just in case.’

Annie had been talking to another parishioner and as she turned, she gasped. She found the pair of them inches away from her. Jeannie didn’t speak, but kept her head lowered. Nick put a hand on her belly, which made the woman look uncomfortable, then he leaned towards Annie and in a low voice, said, ‘This here bairn is heir to Scartongarth. Your bastard will never inherit.’

Forcing away the memory, she raised her eyes to look out of the window, into the soft light of a dying late-summer day. A few feathery clouds, already turning pink, stretched over the sky. Beyond the undulating hillside, dotted with cottages and outhouses, sheep and cattle, the firth lay grey and still. She appreciated life here, so different from the busy streets of Glasgow she had long since left behind.

She only fully relaxed when she saw her son run up the path. Her step-father, the Reverend Donald Charleston came behind him, the indulgent smile on his face that appeared whenever he looked at the boy.  Annie threw open the door and ran to meet them, scooping Dee up in her arms and nuzzling his cold cheek.

‘Mammy, I helped take the bull to the cow,’ he cried, his voice high and excited.

Annie lifted horrified eyes in question. Donald nodded. ‘Dougal’s cow.’ He laughed. ‘Don’t worry, we just walked along the road with them, we didn’t wait around for whatever happened next.’

Annie gave a sigh of relief. There were some questions she didn’t want to have to answer until Dee was older. She returned indoors carrying her son with her.

In spite of her early reservations, Donald had been good for her mother, and Dee could have no better male role-model. Although she had been offered a house of her own, living in the manse suited her; the child minding was built in.

Offline kathyrnmargo

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Re: I would like feedback please 1039 words
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2021, 04:59:45 PM »
Hi! I really like the beginning, the leap into everyday dialogue, and Isa's reactions give a little intrigue that makes you want to know more. I was a little bit lost in the flashback, when you say "Since then..." I thought the story was reverting back to present time. I think if you take that out and start with "She'd done her best..." it holds us in the memory. Also, the mention of Scartongarth was a bit unclear - I didn't know if it was a town, house, estate, maybe you should clarify that earlier on because of the issue with the heirs, it would shed some light on her previous relationship with Nick and why there is turmoil between them and what happened with her cousin. We'd know that there was a clear conflict, and probably many more surrounding it throughout the story! I love the little details, where you can visualize where people are standing, how they're interacting with their surroundings. I really want to read more!

Offline katarina66

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Re: I would like feedback please 1039 words
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2021, 06:59:58 AM »
thank you for your input. Heir to Scartongarth is part of a series. I will take your suggestions on board, however, as I strive to have each book stand alone and I do aim at people who might not have read previous books in the Raumsey series.