A new visitor to my blog this week as Anita Chapman shares an extract from The Venice Secret. Over to Anita to tell us more …
Thank you very much for hosting me on your blog, Morton.
The Venice Secret is a dual timeline novel set in an English country house and Venice. Rachel, a twentysomething is stuck in a rut when she finds a painting in her grandmother’s loft with a note, written in 1782, addressed to Philippa and from the mysterious ‘R’. The novel goes back in time to tell the story of Philippa who is on the verge of destitution after her father dies. She becomes a governess at the local country house, but when the earl proposed she become his mistress, escapes to Venice as companion to bluestocking, Lady Cordelia.
Extract from The Venice Secret:
It took a week to reach Lyon from Paris, and then we progressed through Switzerland, via the Mount Cenis pass where our carriage was dismantled and transported by mules whilst porters carried us on sedan chairs. I was at the front with Lady Cordelia following. Snow blanketed the peaks, and small drifts formed around the paths. Mountain air was the crispest I had ever breathed; so cool and clear and I inhaled it into my lungs.
As we approached the pass, Lady Cordelia cried out. ‘Please stop,’ she said.
The porters continued, and I gestured to one of the men who carried me. ‘My companion is speaking.’
The porters shouted at each other in Italian, so fast that I could not understand a word, then they stopped and put us down.
‘I feel giddy,’ Lady Cordelia said.
‘My friend has vertigo,’ I said to one of the porters who carried me.
He waved his arms all around him and made a display of breathing in and out loudly to explain to the others that Lady Cordelia seemed to be suffering from a lack of oxygen due to our altitude, although this did not impact me. One of the porters laid out a blanket for her on the grass, and I helped her to sit down.
‘This has not happened before,’ she said.
I nodded and sat beside her on the blanket. Wild flowers sprang up all around us in yellow and pink and purple; a small consolation. I lifted Lady Cordelia’s flask from around her neck and held it to her mouth as if she were a small child. Her face was as white as the snow on the peaks of the mountains surrounding us, and once again I questioned if she were entirely in good health. A stream babbled nearby and I went to refill our flasks. No water could be cleaner than this. I approached the stream, edged with clumps of snow and scooped up the cold, clear water into our flasks, and took a sip from mine. Water directly from a mountain stream, a new and exhilarating experience. I gave Lady Cordelia back her flask and she took a sip.
‘Good clean water for us both,’ I said.
‘You are most kind, Philippa.’
‘While you rest, I shall study the flora. Then, if you are feeling better, we should progress in order to give you access to more oxygen below,’ I said.
‘You are right,’ she said. ‘Let us continue once you are done.’
I picked a purple flower to press in my journal as a keepsake. Lady Cordelia gestured to the porters, and we returned to the sedan chairs. As we progressed along the rocky path, I refrained from looking down at the drop thousands of feet to the valleys below, green and lush with mountainsides filled with hundreds of trees, and dotted with wooden chalets. I had not seen such height, nor wonder in my lifetime, a comfort as I prayed to the Lord to keep us all safe. If one of the porters were to lose concentration for a mere moment or trip over a rock, it would be the end of us all. Casting this thought aside, I remained optimistic as we succeeded with our crossing, and then made our descent to Italy.
About Anita Chapman
Anita likes to read journals and diaries from the past, and one of her favourite pastimes is visiting art galleries and country houses. Her first published novel, The Venice Secret is inspired by her mother taking her to see the Canalettos at The National Gallery in London as a child.
Since 2015, Anita has worked as a social media manager, training authors on social media, and helping to promote their books.
Website and social media links:
Website: https://anitachapman.com (also found at https://neetsmarketing.com).
Twitter: @neetschapman https://twitter.com/neetschapman
Facebook Page: Anita Chapman Author https://www.facebook.com/neetschapman
Instagram: @neetschapman https://www.instagram.com/neetschapman
TikTok: @neetschapman https://www.tiktok.com/@neetschapman
About The Venice Secret:
One hidden painting. Two women born centuries apart. A secret uncovered.
In 2019, Rachel is stuck in a rut when she discovers what appears to be a Canaletto painting in her grandmother’s loft along with a note addressed to Philippa in 1782. With help from Jake at the local art gallery, Rachel endeavours to find out if the painting is an original and uncovers a secret from the past.
In 1780, governess at Chipford Hall, Philippa is offered the role of mistress by Earl Rupert. She escapes to Venice as companion to bluestocking, Lady Cordelia who reveals a secret that changes both their lives. They do their best to keep the secret from Lady Cordelia’s social circle, but their nemesis is determined to reveal all and ruin them.
Buying links for The Venice Secret:
Amazon UK: amzn.to/3ES3oGy
Amazon US: a.co/d/gOH1xVZ
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Published by Choc Lit an imprint of Joffe Books