Title: The French Wife
Author: Diney Costeloe
Genre: Saga Fiction
Pub. Date: May 7, 2020
Publisher & Hosted: Head of Zeus
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Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2X0NnYT
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3aXiH0M
Google Play: https://bit.ly/39Rwc0D
Love, secrets and danger abound in the new historical novel from bestselling author Diney Costeloe, set in 19th-century France.
As the St Clair family prepare for the grand wedding of their daughter, Clarice, trouble is brewing. An old friendship, a new love and a dangerous secret threaten to destroy the life the St Clairs have built.
Their younger daughter, Hélène, became friends with orphaned Annette during the terrible events of the 1871 siege of Paris. Now they are reunited, with Annette working below stairs for Hélène's parents. But she is hiding a dangerous secret, which Hélène has promised to keep at all costs.
Meanwhile, Hélène has begun to fall in love with a young nobleman from England, whose family has plans which do not include their son choosing a French wife.
‘But,’ Agathe said, ‘you don’t love him.’
‘What has love to do with it?’ demanded Fleur. ‘If we marry it will suit us both. He’s looking for a wife and I’m looking for the security that he can provide.’
‘You will never be safe, married to a bully like him!’ cried Agathe in a last bid to make her sister see sense. ‘You’ve seen what he’s like when he’s drunk!’
‘It’s nothing to do with you,’ snapped Fleur. ‘Just mind your own business!’
Within the month Fleur and Yves were married and from then on the sisters had hardly spoken.
Agathe had been proved right and though she never admitted it to her sister, Fleur found herself trapped in a loveless and abusive marriage, from which there was no escape. Yves dominated her in every respect, making her life a misery, until, that was, coming home one afternoon already reeling from midday drink, he staggered out in front of a coal merchant’s waggon. The horses reared in fright, knocking him to the ground, and their hooves came plunging down on his head, killing him instantly. Her husband was dead, and when they came to tell her of this tragedy, Fleur’s only emotion was profound relief. With no other family to lay claim to his possessions, everything he’d owned was now Fleur’s, and she dealt with her new prosperity shrewdly. She rented the ground-floor shop to Yves’s erstwhile apprentice and continued to live above in the apartment that had been her married home. The rents from the apartments on the two floors above provided further income. At last Fleur had the security she had so longed for; she had the apartment and enough money to live on and with no children, she had only herself to please. Her relief at her new-found security she shared with no one, not even her estranged sister.
Now,reluctantly, Agathe set out to visit her, but before knocking at her door, stood outside in the street. She peered in through the window of the butcher’s shop. The apprentice, now a master butcher himself, seemed to be doing a brisk trade. Chickens, their wrung necks dangling, hung above the counter; a butchered sheep swung from a hook on the ceiling and even as she watched, the man sharpened a large knife and sliced meat from the carcass for his waiting customer.
Agathe turned away from the shop and looked back along the cobbled street. It was narrow, lined with tall buildings similar to Fleur’s; a street from an earlier age, it had a gully down the middle to carry away water and much else, but if it wasn’t the best address in Paris, it wasn’t the worst either.
Pull yourself together, she admonished herself. You’ve nowhere else to go and it’ll only be for a very short time, just until you find yourself another position.
The door to the upper floors stood beside that of the shop, and when she pushed it open Agathe found herself in a narrow hallway from which a staircase ascended to the floors above. Slowly she made her way up the stairs and again paused outside the door with the single name beside it. Bastien. Hesitantly, she stepped forward and grasping the knocker, let it fall.
When Fleur opened the door and found her sister on the threshold, she took an involuntary step backwards.
‘Well,’ she said acidly, ‘and to what do I owe this honour?’
Author Bio ↓
Diney Costeloe is the author of twenty-three novels, several short stories, and many articles and poems. She has three children and seven grandchildren, so when she isn’t writing, she’s busy with family. She and her husband divide their time between Somerset and West Cork.
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