Oops, running late with this post due to technical difficulties...but I finally got here!
This week for Writing on Wednesday I thought I would do something a little different and include a book review, then I will continue with the story I started writing last week. If it goes well, I thought I would continue it as a weekly serial. It's a great way of keeping my writing accountable and motivating myself to write something creative every week.
The Midnight Dress
I have just finished reading a beautiful book written by my Writer's Group leader, Karen Foxlee, so I thought I would share it with you.
Classified as contemporary fiction, The Midnight Dress is the story of quiet, nomadic teenager Rose Lovell who settles into a small North Queensland town with her alcoholic father. Rose is drawn to the beauty of the town, nestled between the ocean and the mountains, and reluctantly befriends a local vivacious girl, Pearl. With the upcoming harvest parade, Pearl convinces Rose to have a dress made by local seamstress Edie Baker, rumoured to be a witch due to her solitary lifestyle and her derelict home. Edie and Rose form a bond during the hand-sewing of her beautiful midnight blue dress, a dress that becomes the central focus in a murder mystery that shatters the town.
I was drawn to the beautiful imagery in this novel. The way in which Karen Foxlee depicts the town of Leonora and brings to life its inhabitants captures you from the very first page. She weaves a lovely, mysterious and suspenseful tale that had me torn between racing to the end, and wanting to savour every chapter. Here is the link to more reviews on Goodreads. Although the protagonists are teenagers I would recommend this novel for women of all ages....a great Australian Xmas idea.
I bought the novel purely out of curiosity because Karen runs our writers group. She also wrote the award-winning The Anatomy of Wings which sits on my bookshelf waiting to be read next. It's lovely to discover such a talented local author and to be a part of her writing group. I have my copy of The Midnight Dress ready to take in tomorrow so I can ask Karen to sign it for me.
Have you read any breathtaking books lately?
The rude man across the room is staring again and I quickly lower my eyes to the empty page in front of me. Damn it, I think he saw me looking. I wriggle on the hard chair, tucking my long legs beneath it as I straighten my back and proceed to study my hands...again. Long skinny fingers Ruby Rose, great for playing piano Nanna Cotton used to say. Too bad we never had one. I wish she was here now. There's no way she would stand for such bad manners. I can picture her marching over there, hands on hips, to give him a serve, no matter how handsome he is.
Smiling, I think how she would disapprove of my dirty fingernails, so I distract myself by picking at them. One nail under the other, starting with the left thumb, as I always do. Garden top-soil peppers the white paper on the desk and I brush it aside, watching it disappear onto the empty seat beside me. I put my hand up to admire my handiwork, wishing I had painted them, and my eyes are drawn in his direction. He is smiling now, leaning against the side wall like he belongs there, which is absurd considering he would be ten years old than us first year uni students...and he is wearing a suit despite the heat. His smile is cold though, not reaching his eyes, arrogant and yet somehow familiar. Who is he?
I curse my fair skin as my face turns red. Looking away, I fight the urge to climb over the rows of attentive students and run out of the auditorium. I have not heard a word the English lecturer is saying and I cannot concentrate on writing anything down. What is he staring at anyway? Certainly not my op-shop yellow sundress, nor my untidy mass of black hair straining underneath the weight of bobby pins and rubber bands. I touch my bun, just to be sure it's held in place.
Oh no, he will think I'm vain. What do I care anyway? If he doesn't stop staring I swear I will scream. It wouldn't be the first time. They all think I'm crazy anyway so why not add fuel to the fire. That would certainly scare the stranger off.
"Ruby Cotton," says a deep male voice so very close behind me. I jump, and feel the heat rising again, but resist the urge to turn. He says my name like a soft caress. Dammit, I know it's him. I didn't see him move. How does he know my name? I can smell his ocean-fresh cologne and feel the warmth of his breath on my neck. "You need to come with me."
Now today's instalment:
"What the..." I turn to face him and meet his cold, glass-green eyes, all words forgotten. The seat beside me is no longer empty and I feel something sharp poking into the thin material of my dress. I reach down to push it away as he shakes his head, and touch something metal. My eyes widen and he nods. Shit, a gun, really? “Who the hell are you?”
“Shhh,” he whispers, reaching over the chair to grab my arm, “Come quickly, don’t make a scene.” He smiles charmingly at the few students now gaping at us, expecting said scene, “A family emergency. Please excuse us.”
I pull my arm back but his grip tightens and he lifts me from my chair. I vaguely notice it’s a woman in the seat beside me, shorter than me with a red bob. She rises at the same time and puts her arm around my shoulders, pressing the hidden gun harder into my side. He lets go of my arm and it hurts where his fingers were. What the hell is going on? Who the hell are these people?
“Come now dear, it will all be okay,” the short woman says, feigning compassion. Dammit, I have no choice. If they want me to come surely they won't shoot me, but what about the other students? I can't take the risk. He knows that. What the hell do they want with me? No family emergency that I know of warrants the threat of a gun. I have no money and I certainly haven't done anything wrong that I can think of. I curse sitting in the aisle seat now. There is no-one to stop me, and why would they halt crazy Ruby Rose anyway? I panic now, thinking that if they don't want to kill me, what other horrible things could they be up to.
The bobbed woman escorts me out of the auditorium. I glance around the front but there is no-one in sight. I feel him close behind us as a black limousine pulls up in front of the steps. You've got to be joking, right? I suddenly stop and turn to face him.
"No!! I did you as asked, now tell me what the hell this is about," I shout. He looks amused, "I will scream if you try and put me in that car."
"Such fire in those deep blue eyes of yours Ruby Rose," Only Nanna Cotton calls me that. I raise my hand to...what...slap him? But his hand quickly clamps around my mouth and he pins my arm to my side, pushing the gun and the woman away. "All in good time my dear, but this is certainly not the place."
I struggle but my skinny frame is no match for him as he pulls me into the open door of the limo.
Hmmm, I wonder what will happen to Ruby Rose next week. Suggestions?