Monday 4 February 2013

Monday Moments features Michela O'Brien

When the days are short, and the weather cold and snowy, what's better to do than read about something much more warming? Why not try fellow Crooked Cat author's new release - A SUMMER OF LOVE by Michela O'Brien?

Successful artist Jonah Briggs is a man who has made mistakes. Aged just eighteen, he was sent to prison for two years, leaving his family shattered and his first love, Sally, to wait for his return.

But at eighteen, two years seem like a lifetime, and some promises are hard to keep. 
When Jonah reappears in her life, Sally finds herself torn between him and Ewan, the young Cornish farmer she has married, divided between loyalty and passion, duty and love. 

Over the course of almost two decades, through meetings and partings, secrets and revelations, and two momentous summers, Jonah will have to confront his past and heal old wounds, while Sally will face the consequences of her choices – whether to follow her conscience or her heart.

Michela O’Brien was born in Milan, Italy, in… well, let’s say some time in the last third of the 20th century. In Milan she grew up, studied, worked as a teacher, made friends and wrote, commending thoughts to page, imagining plots and characters, recording events in her life, noting observations about the world: stories, diaries, letters… In an era before personal computers, internet, blogs and social networks, it was pen and paper and she still carries a notebook and a pencil with her to sketch ideas on the spot.

She moved to England in 1994 and for a while she focused her attention on her new family. Writing was sidelined, until, about ten years ago, she went back to her love for words and wrote a novel, published in Italy, and a series of short stories, all in her native language.
Several people asked her if she would ever consider writing in English, but her standard answer was “I wouldn’t be able to. My English is not good enough.” Then, almost as a joke for some friends, she started writing “Like A Rose”, her first attempt to produce a piece of writing in English. It was received so well by those who read it that she thought maybe she could do it again.
She wrote two novels, “Playing on Cotton Clouds”, published by Crooked Cat in April 2012, and “A Summer of Love”, released in January 2013.
She is currently working on her third novel.

Book on Amazon
Contact Michela at: 
Facebook AuthorPage

Read on for an excellent excerpt from A SUMMER OF LOVE: 

Jonah stepped out of the car. “Cheers, mate. Much appreciated.”
The young driver nodded. “You’re welcome. Are you sure you don’t want me to take you any further?”
“No, I don’t want to take any more of your time. I can walk from here, no problem.”
“All right then.”
He slammed the door and the little red Fiesta drove off.
Jonah stood at the beginning of the road. He took a deep breath and looked on.
He was back.
He had travelled by train to Truro, napping for most of the journey, then managed to hitchhike a couple of rides. The young guy who had picked him up last, as he perilously walked along the edge of the A30, had been able to drive him all the way to the village.
His home town welcomed him with the familiar sight of cobble streets and narrow lanes, low-ceiling old buildings and grey-stone Cornish cottages unchanged for centuries, let alone a couple of years.
From where he was standing it looked as if things were exactly as he had left them: the traditional pasty shop and the chippy, the warm country pub and the quirky tearoom with dusty net-curtains at the bay window, the fishing boats anchored at the entrance of the small harbour, and the vast beach, remodelling itself with each tide. The village lay seemingly untouched by the passing of time, but Jonah knew that stillness was just an illusion.
As he walked along the lane that led to the church, lined with dormant gardens only just coming out of their winter hibernation, sprouting shy buds on naked shrubs, snowdrops and daffodils, he sensed that time had actually left a mark on many things, particularly on him.
It was getting dark and colder and his summer clothes were not protecting him from the night chill, while his empty stomach grumbled with hunger cramps. He quickened his pace, longing for a wash, a meal, a warm bed.
That’s if he would be allowed to stay, of course.
He turned a corner. The long, narrow fifteenth century church, with its grey stone walls, and the four-corner-spiked bell tower stared back at him, severe and cold, crushing him under the weight of his guilt.
A flicker of light trembled behind the windows.
Jonah walked to the heavy wooden door, pushed it and entered.
The smell of candle-wax and damp walls assaulted him, taking him back to the days when he sat reluctantly listening to his father’s sermons. It was a million years before and yet, now that he stood there shivering in the cold nave, it seemed like yesterday.
His father’s tall, imposing figure stooped as he collected hymn books from the benches, and turned around at the noise of the door opening and closing.
Their eyes met and Jonah heard his voice ringing through the silence of the church.
“Hi, Dad.”
The Reverend looked back at him, a deep frown sculptured on his forehead under his mane of grey hair.
“When did you get out?” He spoke slowly, with the solemnity that had become second nature to him.
“This morning.”
“How did you get back?”
“Train… hitchhiking… walking…”
The Reverend moved towards him and Jonah held his breath, his heart beating furiously.
His father stopped a few paces from him and looked at him blankly.
“You look very thin.” There were not going to be hugs and tears.
“I’ve been sick.”
“What do you mean, sick?”
“Some chest complaint.” Jonah took a dismissive tone. “Pneumonia or some sort of complication.”
“When was this?”
“Before Christmas.”
“Why wasn’t I told?”
“Why? Would that have made any difference?”
“I would have prayed for you.”
Jonah grimaced, sarcastic. “Prayed?”
His father didn’t answer.
“You never came to see me.” Jonah’s voice filled the silent pause.
The Reverend’s stare hardened. “I’m sorry you have been unwell. How are you now?”
Jonah shrugged and looked down at his shoes. He had covered all those miles in the hope there would be a forgiveness that wouldn’t come. What would he have to do to receive it? Get down on his knees and beg? He was pretty much on his knees already.
He looked up again. “I am sorry, Dad.”
The Reverend moved away and carried on tidying up the books. “It’s too late for that now.”
“I don’t think I have to tell you, do I?”
“What? I cannot repent of my sins?” Jonah found a belligerent tone hidden in some recess where his old self still existed. “I thought this was the place to do just that.”
His father turned to him. “Stop it.”
“Stop what? I want absolution. I’m entitled to it, aren’t I? I’ve done my time.”
The Reverend’s expression became more distant and resolute. They always ended up in the same place. Coldness and rebellion, indignation and indifference, slipping into their old, well rehearsed roles. Now Jonah guessed what was coming and was ready.
“You have no respect for anything.” His father’s tone cut through the air. “You are heartless.”
“I am heartless?” Jonah’s reply bounced straight back, reverberating against the stones of the walls and pillars. “I’ve been in that bloody place for nearly three years and not once did you come to see me. Isn’t it in the Bible? I was ill or in prison and you came to visit me… See? I do remember the things you taught me, even if I don’t believe a word of it… and neither do you, by the look of things.”
“How dare you?” His father was struggling not to raise his voice in church. “How dare you quote the Scriptures? You have made a mockery of everything I hold sacred and dear, always. Do you think I am going to stand here and listen to you now?”
“You never listened, Dad; never. You always knew what I thought, what I felt. And I don’t deserve your forgiveness, because I don’t care. You know what? I don’t. I don’t give a–” 
“Then I think you should leave, don’t you?”
“I probably should, only…” Jonah paused. It was hard, crawling like this in search of love only to find rancour and coldness. “...I have nowhere to go,” he finished.
“Not my problem.”
“Dad, please.”
The Reverend didn’t seem moved. “There’s a B&B down the village.”
“I have no money either.”
“How much do you want?”
           “I don’t want anything…” Jonah took a deep breath. “Look, let me stay tonight. Tomorrow I’ll gather my things and disappear, I promise. And since you offered… two hundred? Maybe three? Just to tide me over until I find a job.”
The Reverend stood silent for a few minutes.
“I’ll give you what you asked, but I want you out tomorrow.”
“Will do.”
“Here’s the key to the house. Let yourself in.” The Reverend stretched out his hand. “Help yourself to food.”
Jonah walked to the door, stopped on the threshold and turned one more time.
“I know you don’t believe me and I know it’s too late and it doesn’t fix things, but… I am sorry. For everything.”
His father stood in a resolute silence and Jonah left.

Thank you for featuring with 'Monday Moments', Michela. Best wishes for great success.

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