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Blog Tour and Book Excerpt for "Novice Threads"

Blog tour banner for "Novice Threads"

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

Novice Threads book cover

Novice Threads

by Nancy Jardine




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?


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Author Bio:


Nancy Jardine author photo

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.


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Book Excerpt:

As Changeable As The Wind


August 1855


The wind was howling like a banshee as Margaret made her way along George Street towards St. Andrew Square the next day. Clutching her hat with one hand, and her bulging cloth bag with the other, she battled to keep her balance. Hardly noticing the buildings that she was passing, her eyes downcast, she became aware of someone calling out from behind. It was only when the call came a second time, she realised it was her name being shouted. She turned around.

“Let me help you with that bag!” Gavin’s expression was concerned, the wind almost whipping his words away as he skipped down the last step of the short flight that led into the building he’d just vacated. It was ages since she had seen him while on her own.

Looking up, she realised she was outside his workplace, the impressive building which housed The Commercial Bank.

“What a day!” she said, wondering why he was even speaking to her.

Gavin’s arm steadied her when she almost toppled after a particularly strong gust, then he drew her towards him. She tried to extract her bag from her arm, but found the handles had twisted around her forearm so much it was an impossible task.

“Come up with me.” Gavin urged her up the flight of steps, not to the main double doors but to another door alongside. “We’ll get it untangled indoors, out of the wind.”

He held the door open and allowed her to enter first. “Stretch out your arm, if you can.”

Gavin’s instruction pulled her from her daze.

“Thank you. It’s such a nuisance when this happens.” Margaret maintained a polite exchange.

His attitude was so different from his recent indifference, and she didn’t know why it was so. It confused her but she also felt starved of his congenial company that had thrilled her so much.

The dark wood-panelled corridor led through to a bright space up ahead which looked so tempting.

While he unwound the cloth handles, his conversation was a treat to a starving soul. “The exterior is impressive but that interior even more so, don’t you think?”

Margaret gulped. “I can’t see it properly, but it looks truly remarkable.”

Gavin popped the bag down on the floor and set to righting her bonnet. “I’m afraid I’m not allowed to take you all the way into the foyer. Unless you have a full load of money in that bag! And, in case you think that’s where I work all day, you need to think again. My desk is in a tiny office up high in the building.” His words tingled at her ear; his face so close she could see the bristles at his cheeks. “It’ll be years, even decades, before I expect to be working at the customer desks down here on the ground floor.”

“Thank you. I can feel my arm again.” She gave it a bit of a shake, then retied the bow under her neck. “And for that little glimpse into another world.”

Taking her by the elbow he pulled her along a couple of steps towards the foyer. “Peek in quickly so they don’t notice, or they’ll take you for an intruder bent on robbing the premises.”

Gavin’s joke made the hairs on her neck bristle. What a dreadful concept!

There was a wonderful mosaic floor underfoot, and a huge cathedral-like dome way up in the roof. The light filtering down through the beautiful stained glass was slightly diminished by the outside grey cloud-cover, but there were plenty of ornate gas lamps dotted around to give warm illumination to all of the glossy desk surfaces on the ground floor. Above that an upper balcony led off to numerous offices. Shining wood and gilt adornments robbed her of her breath.

Gavin’s palms at her shoulders drew her back from the scene that she had taken too long to snatch a glimpse of. He turned her round towards the door they had used to enter, assuring her that nobody was going to complain. At least he hoped they weren’t.

“Are you going straight home, now, or have you other errands to do?” Gavin picked up her bag from the corridor floor.

“Straight home.” Again, she was gripped by his changed mood. “I actually had a bit more free time today, which is unusual. Mistress Duncan dismissed me for an hour since she decided to stay longer with Rachel.”

“Really?” Gavin sounded as surprised as she’d been herself, though she also sensed an element of disquiet.

She couldn’t be as circumspect as she probably should, given her position in the household. “It was no hardship for her. Rachel was having an afternoon nap when Mistress Duncan came up to the parlour. Elspeth and Victoria were due home from school and would be there to keep Rachel company.” After a slight pause she said, “Jessie was alerted.”

Gavin held open the door. “So, you decided to make an escape?”

“Rachel needed some more silver and grey silks for her special embroidery sampler, and I took the opportunity to buy some material to make new dresses for myself and Jessie. It was a good enough reason for me to leave the house, in the Mistress’s opinion.”

“Do you make Jessie’s clothing?”

She clucked at his surprise. “No, I don’t. We help each other to measure and cut. And when we’ve sewn the dress, the hemming is so much easier with someone else helping.”

“When do you find time to do it? You’re too occupied during the day with Rachel.” He held the outside door open.

“It takes us weeks, but we encourage each other to get tasks finished.” Margaret secured her bonnet ribbon.

“Breathe deeply before we skip down the stairs. Then we’ll make a run for it.”

With Gavin steering her by the elbow, and him having taken over the rotating cloth bag, it took them no time at all to reach Albany Street.

Conversation had been almost impossible; not much more than short questions and even more brief answers, the wind whipping their words away. When she felt the first rain spatters, their pace increased even more.

At the house Gavin made no hesitation. He nipped down the basement steps with Margaret in tow. Once the basement door was open and they were inside, he handed over her bag.

“You could have given it to me up there,” she said, setting the bag down on the floor, while attempting to be matter-of-fact. “And gone in the front door.”

“I could have, but I know you’d not have come with me.”

Gavin’s eyes searched her own, his expression changing from a silent plea to a furious frustration.

Margaret’s breath snagged in her throat when Gavin grabbed her into his arms as though he couldn’t help himself.

“Margaret. Forgive me? I’m so very sorry I’ve been so…”

Since he didn’t seem to know how to finish, she blurted out, “Why have you?”


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29 views2 comments


Thank you for being my host today and for sharing the little excerpt from Novice Threads. It's much appreciated.


Thank you for featuring Nancy Jardine on your lovely blog today, with an excerpt from her fabulous novel, Novice Threads. Take care,

Cathie xo

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