Today I'm delighted to welcome Jane Jackson to my blog. Jane is going to tell us some historical facts upon which her book, Crosscurrents, is founded. There is also an extract form her new book -CROSSCURRENTS - which I can't wait to read.
Over to you Jane:
Over to you Jane:
In Regency times when clean drinking water could not be guaranteed, everyone from gentry to labourers drank ale. Towns had commercial breweries while country houses and farms brewed their own ales of varying strengths.
Harvest time required hundreds of gallons of weak, thirst-quenching small beer. Strong ales brewed for the country gentleman’s table were often laid down like wine and kept for several years ready for important family occasions like a wedding or the birth of an heir.
In the 1400s household beer was usually drunk out of horn cups. With most farms having horned cattle this raw material was easy to obtain and making horn cups quickly became a recognised craft. They had the great advantage of being light, strong, and easy to carry when travelling.
Horn cups used by servants and labourers were simple in design. Those made for the wealthy often had rims decorated with silver or pewter.
By the mid C16th ale drinkers preferred glasses to horn cups. Most were imported from Venice and made of soda glass with a milky appearance that masked the cloudiness of home-brewed beer and ale.
Mid C17th brewers were producing clearer ales, and George Ravenscroft had invented a clear lead-based glass that quickly replaced Venetian glassware.
C18th English ale glasses bore no resemblance to the chunky glass tankards of today. Because ales were much stronger, C18th glasses were smaller, only four to five inches high. Elegant and beautiful, they were similar in design and decoration to wine glasses.
Ale flutes appeared in the mid 1700s. Made of high-quality glass they had a narrow elegant bowl on a long decorative stem with a circular foot. An engraving of hops or barley on the bowl was all that distinguished them from those used for champagne.
At five o’clock exactly Melanie stood outside her father’s study door, her pulse loud in her ears. She squared her shoulders and drew in a deep breath before releasing it slowly.
Tapping the door with her knuckles she entered a comfortably shabby room with wood-panelled walls, heavy furniture, and a faint aroma of brandy and cigars.
Coming from behind his desk he indicated a leather armchair on one side of the hearth then seated himself opposite.
‘Now, my dear.’ Crossing dark-trousered legs he smiled at her, linking his fingers over his stomach. ‘Tell me what happened. I believed you to be in France with your mother. How is she?
‘Very well, though her condition –’
‘She is expecting another child.’
‘I see. And her husband?’
‘Monsieur is also in good health,’ Melanie answered, carefully expressionless.
‘So why are you not still in France?’
‘When my mother wrote inviting me to Paris, I thought –’ I thought she wanted to meet the daughter she had last seen as a four-year-old. I wanted to find out why she had abandoned me. Melanie cleared a painful tightness from her throat. ‘I had many hopes for my visit.’ So many hopes, so swiftly crushed.
‘You know how important art is to me so I think you will understand my longing to see the paintings in the Louvre? Also, if it was possible, I wanted to visit the studios of some of the artists working in Paris.’
‘What did you think of the Louvre? Magnificent, is it not?’
Melanie relived bitter disappointment as she shook her head. ‘I did not see it. There was never time.’
‘My mother and her husband have a very busy social life.’
‘Oh well, at least you made some new acquaintances.’
‘No.’ His startled expression had her torn between laughter and tears. ‘I remained at their apartment looking after the children. They have four-year-old twin boys.’ As Melanie had begun to wonder if her mother’s friends knew of her existence, she realised her summons to Paris had sprung not from any resurgence of maternal affection but because her mother was at her wits’ end.
‘They are sweet boys but very boisterous. There have been numerous nursemaids but none stayed long. I think with more time I might have had some success. But when they told me about the voyage –’
Frederick Tregarron frowned. ‘Your mother never mentioned this when she wrote to me asking for your direction and my agreement to your visit.’
Within a week of arriving in Paris Melanie had seen her hopes of a joyful reunion with her mother for what they were: dreams with all the substance of mist. Her only value was as an unpaid nurse for the children. Her passion for art had been dismissed with the careless flick of a hand, of no interest to a woman who cared only for fashion and company.
‘You did not wish to accompany them?’
‘No,’ Melanie said flatly.
‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ her mother had cried. ‘You must. I need you. Besides, what else would you do? You cannot stay here.’
Pretending a calm she did not feel, Melanie had said, ‘I shall return to England as soon as possible.’ Please don’t ask why. What could she say? Of what could she accuse him? He had done nothing exceptional, said nothing untoward. He was handsome, wealthy, and her mother adored him. Yet the moment they were introduced and he bowed over her hand she had felt a shiver of unease.
But her mother did not ask. Instead, shouting accusations of selfishness and ingratitude, she had burst into noisy sobs and flung herself into her husband’s arms.
As he patted his wife’s back, Melanie saw the fractional lift of an eyebrow and the hint of a sardonic smile.
Her skin tightening at the memory, she looked directly at her father. ‘I could not remain in Paris. So I came back.’
Santo Innis is developing a revolutionary new engine to counter the lethal effects of high-pressure steam. His backer is Richard Vaughan, heir to Frederick Tregarron, owner of Gillyvean estate.
Following the tragic deaths of his wife and baby son, Richard immersed himself in work. But his world is turned upside down by the unexpected arrival at Gillyvean of Melanie Tregarron, a talented artist and Frederick’s illegitimate youngest daughter.
Desperate to prove the viability of his invention, Santo persuades Richard to let him fit one at Gillyvean’s brewhouse.
But when Bronnen Jewell - worried about her mother's suffering at her father's hands - arrives to brew the harvest beer she's horrified, fearing loss of the income on which she depends.
As the lives of these four become entwined, a shocking revelation shatters Bronnen’s world; desperate for money Santo makes a choice that costs him everything; Melanie fears she will never be free of her past; and Richard has to face his deepest fear.
Jane Jackson has been a professional writer for over thirty years, and twice shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award. Crosscurrents is her twenty-eighth published novel.
Happily married to a Cornishman, with children and grandchildren, she has lived in Cornwall most of her life, finding inspiration for her books in the county's magnificent scenery and fascinating history.
She enjoys reading, research, long walks, baking, and visiting Cornish agricultural shows where her husband displays his collection of 28 (and counting) restored vintage rotavators.