Today I am delighted to be sharing an extract from The Tissue Veil by Brenda Bannister as part of the Blog Tour with Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. As much as I would love to read all the books that I get an invite to read, there is just not enough time for me to do this. So instead, having an except is one way I can support a tour. The synopsis and the excerpt has definitely intrigued me, and intrigued me enough that I have bought my own copy 🙂
What if you discovered a hundred-year-old diary under your floorboards – and then found references in it to yourself? Or if you lived in 1901, yet kept seeing glimpses of a girl from modern times? And what if both of you had problems that only the other could really understand? Emily and Aysha live in the same Stepney house and an inexplicable link develops between them, fuelled by Aysha’s discovery of a journal and Emily’s sightings of a ‘future ghost’. Each takes courage from the other’s predicament – after all, what’s a hundred years between friends?
Excerpt from Chapter 13 of The Tissue Veil
From time to time Emily has inexplicable glimpses of a strange girl in her room and hears voices address the girl as ‘Aysha’. This first occurs in the days after Emily’s mother’s funeral. When, late one night, it happens again, she recognises that Aysha, like Emily herself, is troubled…
We tie up three puddings in muslin ready to go in the boiler, but it’s already late in the afternoon when they start to cook and we have to wait past bedtime for them to finish steaming. Daisy, who was up at six, is falling asleep, so I offer to watch them for the last hour.
“Mind you don’t let ‘em dry out, miss,” she yawns. She doesn’t trust me to keep awake, but she knows she won’t either. I don’t dare let myself sit down, so I occupy the hour lining up jars and packets in the pantry, writing lists of things we need and polishing the silver teapot. At last, I am able to turn off the boiler, remove the puddings and leave them to cool.
I’m not even thinking about Aysha, but when I go to my room I see her, slumped in a chair by the window. Her outfit is different and much grander than before: a blue tunic with matching pantaloons, embroidered in gold. They are clothes I imagine an Indian princess might wear, but she seems careless of them and looks as if, like me, she’s exhausted.
“Aysha!” I say, but she doesn’t know I exist. I study her face: she will not sleep well. Too much is written there.
She gets up, stretches, and begins to speak. Not to me or, it seems, to anyone else who’s there; rather, I imagine, out of a troubled heart. At first I think I recognise the words, then I am confused.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a young man in possession of a… a chain of fried chicken shops – she curls her lip – must be in need of a wife. Then her mouth twitches into a smile and she glides from side to side across the floor, swaying her arms as if she’s dancing or skating. Then, suddenly, she’s gone.
Miss Morgan showed the class a picture book of India once. There were paintings of forts and temples and elephants carrying maharajahs, and each of the illustrations was overlaid with a leaf of tissue paper. I would ask to see the book and try to remember the order in which each picture came, to guess what was underneath the overlays. The images were there, behind their tissue veils, but you couldn’t quite see them until you turned the leaf. Sometimes I think that’s how it is with Aysha: that she’s here all the time if I could only see. But which of us is behind the tissue, I cannot tell.
About the Author:
Brenda studied English at university and later qualified as a librarian, working in various educational settings from schools to higher education. Moving from London to Frome in Somerset in 2010 proved a catalyst for her own writing as she joined local fiction and script writing groups. She has had a number of short stories published, plus short plays produced in local pub theatre, but all the while was incubating a story based in the area of Tower Hamlets where she had worked for eighteen years. This germ of a story became ‘The Tissue Veil’.
Brenda is a founder member of Frome Writers’ Collective, an organisation which has grown from a handful of members to over a hundred in the past four years, and helped set up its innovative Silver Crow Book Brand. She is also the current organiser of the annual Frome Festival Short Story Competition. A lifelong reader, Brenda rarely follows genres, but enjoys modern literary fiction, historical fiction, classics and the occasional detective novel. The latest Bernard Cornwell might be a guilty pleasure, but she’ll be even more eager to get her hands on Hilary Mantel’s final instalment of Thomas Cromwell’s story.
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