The Peacock Bottle

In this Victorian dual timeline novel, Amelia Wise feels a jolt when she finds a blue perfume bottle in the overgrown garden of the house she has inherited. Several events in her life mirrors those from the past and, with the help of her newfound cousin, Olivia, the bottle's secret is uncovered.

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An extract from The Peacock Bottle, a dual timeline set in Victorian Cumberland. Amelia has dropped an axe on her foot while trying to open the door into the overgrown garden of the dilapidated house she has inherited.

Her stepmother shook her head. “Thank God the blasted thing didn’t fall edge first. It would have chopped off your foot.”
That had not occurred to Amelia. She shuddered.
Her stepmother continued, “We ought to take you to a hospital. Does the town contain such a place, Jenny?”
The maid had been staring at Amelia’s injury as if mesmerised. “I beg your pardon, ma’am”
“A hospital in Cockermouth?”
“Um, no, ma’am. There’s the workhouse on Gallowbarrow, but no hospital.”
“Don’t use that detestable word in this house.”
Taken aback at the venom in her stepmother’s voice, Amelia gasped. Never had she known her use such a tone. “Mamma?”
“I’m sorry for my outburst, but we nearly ended up in one of those abominable places. After the fire, before the reading of the will, I feared we would. Of course we did not, but the mere notion sends shivers up my spine.”
Jenny shuffled her feet. “I stayed in the one in Gallowbarrow. It weren’t that bad.”
“You stayed in the work…? You poor girl. How dreadful. But you say it wasn’t bad? I find that incredible. I’ve heard so many tales about the harsh conditions. How old were you?”
“About four or five. I were allowed to stay with me ma, but my older brother, Jimmy, had to go with the men. My sister, Susie, lived with the ladies. She died in there.”
Amelia could not believe her ears. This girl, about her age, must have led such a hard life. “Your sister died there?”
“Yes, Miss, and my younger brother too.”
“How did you escape?”
“My uncle found out about our plight and rescued me and Ma. Some folks do leave. I’m living proof.”

Author Bio 
Married to Don, I have 5 children and 9 grandchildren, I live in Derbyshire, England, and enjoy researching my family tree (having found ancestors as far back as 1465), reading, gardening, playing Scrabble, meals out and family gatherings. I am the treasurer of my writing club, Eastwood Writers’ Group, and I also write and record Thoughts for the Day for Radio Nottingham. At church I sing in the choir and am an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, a reader, a flower arranger and a member of the fundraising team for Cafod, my favourite charity. I have written hymns, although I cannot read music. 
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