And Now For Something Different
As I’m sure I’ve mentioned, my current project is a historical novel, set in the 1950s. I thought I’d post a little excerpt, with some commentary.
So, here is the excerpt:
Evelyn chose to eat quietly, listening as her parents talked to George. While the conversation was on general topics, she knew their real reason for asking him was to encourage her to agree to his proposal.
As pudding was served, talk turned to George’s family.
“Where are your mother and father?” Joseph enquired.
“The family has a farm just out of Palmerston North,” George replied. “My younger brother, Chris, lives there with Mum and Dad.”
Norma looked curious. “A farm? But you chose to become a solicitor?”
“I was never interested in the farm,” George stated flatly.
“What kind of farm is it?” Evelyn asked. All three of them looked at her with odd expressions, as if surprised to hear her speak.
“It’s dairy,” George told her.
“My brother owns a sheep farm just out of Masterton,” her father put in. “My father came out from Great Britain when I was just a young lad and bought some acreage.”
“And you chose the big smoke?” George asked, sounding amused. “That sounds very much like my family, only it was my great-grandfather who came over from Britain. By way of Australia. His family owned a dairy farm in Suffolk.”
“Why did your family leave Britain?” Evelyn asked.
“Like many families, they fell on hard times. My great-grandfather wasn’t a criminal,” he added. She had no idea why he needed to. “He just decided to leave in search of a better way of life. He didn’t like Australia, but he did meet my great-grandmother there. So, they came to New Zealand not long after they were married.”
He went on to explain that his great-grandfather had been able to get a small plot of land through a scheme offered to new settlers, as long as they stayed for at least five years. He was able to slowly expand the farm thanks to the government offering blocks of land at low prices. The family now had close to a thousand acres.
“There’s nothing wrong with farmwork, I suppose,” George decided. “It is, after all, the bread and butter for most of the population in this country. It was just never for me.” He finished up his serving of the pie and smiled at Evelyn’s mother. “This is delicious, Mrs Rutherford.”
“Oh, please, call me Norma,” she returned with a chuckle. “After all, if you and Evelyn are going to be married …” She broke off, shooting Evelyn a look.
“I haven’t actually had Evelyn’s answer yet,” George returned. He smiled at Evelyn. “Don’t worry, my dear. Marriage is a big step, and you shouldn’t rush your decision.”
She was grateful for his patience, but it didn’t help. It felt like her parents were trying to push her into this marriage, whether she wanted it or not.
This is very early in the story, where Evelyn has not yet accepted George’s proposal. The one thing I will say about George is, he does blow a little bit hot-and-cold. He’s very reserved in his manner, especially with Evelyn. What is important about Evelyn is that she’s only eighteen and has been very sheltered all her life. So, she really knows little about dating. Or about men in general.
The one thing I’d like to explain is that George rarely talks so candidly around Evelyn. He’s very much a chauvinist who believes women have their place, and it is not in a professional world. Women should also only speak when spoken to, in his view. He’s also a bit of a snob who looks down on farming, despite his background. Farming has been the backbone of post-colonial New Zealand for much of the last 180 years, so there really is nothing to be snobbish about.
I have to say that attitudes such as his make me glad I was born two decades later than this story is set. Then again, I probably wouldn’t have known any different.
I’m researching as much as I can as I go, using online sources. Having said that, some of the terms used might not fit the context, so I do still have to do some reading. Part of my reason for writing now is basically because I had been sitting on this idea for such a long time. Writing it was a way of getting it out there. I still procrastinate a little, but I think if I write at least a fifth of the book a month, I’m doing pretty well.
I have plans to make this a series, following the family through three generations.