I'm delighted to share an excerpt with you all, but first I will introduce the book.
Ropewalk: Rebellion. Love. Survival.
The North of England, 1831.
The working class are gathering. Rebellion is stirring, and the people are divided.
Beatrice Lightfoot, a young woman fighting her own personal rebellion, is looking for an opportunity to change her luck. When she gains the attention of the enigmatic Captain Hanley, he offers her a tantalising deal to attend the May Day dance. She accepts, unaware of the true price of her own free will.
Her subsequent entanglement with Joshua Mason, the son of a local merchant, draws all three into a destructive and dangerous relationship, which threatens to drag Beatrice, and all she knows into darkness.
Now, Beatrice must choose between rebellion, love and survival before all is lost, and the Northern uprising changes her world forever.
Publication Date: 23rd November 2020
Publisher: Independently Published
Page Length: 243 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
You can purchase a copy of the book via -
Ropewalk; Rebellion. Love. Survival. is on promotion during this tour at 0.99 and signed copies of the paperbacks are available on Hayley’s website - https://hdcoulter.com/
You may also be interested to know that Book
2, Saving Grace; Deception. Obsession. Redemption. has just gone up on
After twenty minutes of walking along the bleak, muddy track with the biting wind on her back, Bea arrived at The Ellers, a narrow street off the primary hub of town. The clean air had turned thick with soot and grime, spilling out of the tall chimneys. She placed her scarf over her mouth and stepped further up the road. It consisted of a row of cottages and two mills. It was also home to another, smaller rope-making business, which had popped up after they built the canal.
Passing the raucous sound issuing from the Corn Mill at the bottom of the street, Bea ambled upwards. The thin street seemed to be vacant of life; the tenants either in the mills or working down at the canal. The only sounds came from the washing billowing on the lines behind the houses and the monotonous ticking from the cotton mill ahead. Bea paused for a moment, staring at the large overbearing building with its foreboding wooden gate. The one thing she was always grateful for was the fact she had never needed to work in the mills. She had heard stories around town of the conditions there, how they employed the forgotten children from the workhouse to run the looms and trapped destitute families into service. Tales of children and adults developing cotton lung, or becoming mangled in the looms and machinery, now living on the streets begging for scraps or returning to the workhouse and a life of unbearable squalor, haunted her each time she passed.
If this was the sign of progress everyone talked about, she wanted nothing to do with it, she thought, shivering. Industry had brought people down from the fells to work in the town, with the promise of a better life, but now they had no home or work to go back to; also, the money had gone down, but the cost of living had gone up. A single loaf of bread cost them a week's worth of wages. Over the past six months, however, a restless feeling had gripped the working-classes across the country. She overheard hushed men’s conversations in the street and learned of small closed-off meetings springing up in pubs and parish halls all over Ulverston. A few weeks back, upon entering the Ropewalk, she had heard her Da talking about it to her uncle, how the men were angry, and talked of change; demanding the right to vote, to choose a representative from their area to become their voice in parliament. Her Da had continued in a low hushed voice.
“And they're goin' to threaten that parliament with marches, riots and revolution, same as the French did forty year' since, if they do not meet our demands.”
“It’s not your business this time, not again. Think of what you have now,” her uncle had replied.
The conversation had swiftly drifted on to other subjects when her brother joined them, and over the next couple of days the discussion had slipped out of Bea's head.
Standing there, looking at the smoking mills rising impassively before her, it all came back. What power would they have against this, to create change? None, surely. She gathered her woollen shawl tighter around her shoulders and trudged on to Market Street.
Today was market day, the same as every Thursday since medieval times, when Ulverston's streets were graced with stalls. Local farmers brought their meats, small time merchants brought their goods, and travellers made their daily living, selling small trinkets from one town to the next. From first light, the noise of chatter surged through the streets, and stallholders celebrated their deals across the square to attract customers competing against their neighbours. Bea had almost forgotten that all this went on. The town was another world to her small hamlet.
Meandering passed Thompson's, her stomach grumbled at the smell of freshly baked pies and breads. She gazed even more hungrily at the new copy of Mary Shelley's 'The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck' enticingly displayed in the window of Sutton's bookshop. A year ago, she had sneaked a copy of 'Frankenstein' home without her Mam noticing, and spent three subsequent nights engrossed in the horrors within, wary of each shadow cast by the moon, dreaming of corpses and monsters. She was tempted to come back with her lace money and spend a shilling on a copy of the new book, but knew she had to be more careful with the disappearance of such a sum in one go, knowing each penny was counted out and placed into the old tea tin by her Mam.
Bea begrudgingly peeled herself away and stopped halfway up Market Street just outside Johnson's. The large windows were painted in a ruby red, framing the latest fashions from Paris or London. Women of all ages stared in, mesmerised as they discussed their opinions with their eager friends. Feeling for the package in her bag, Bea smoothed down her dress, making sure her bonnet was set straight, and opened the door.
Inside was packed full of animated women, and the occasional man who looked like they’d been sentenced to ten years' penal servitude. The women were engrossed in their joyous task of picking their next outfit or enquiring about haberdashery to fabricate a dress. Johnson’s clientele came from the upper middle to lower-upper classes, supplying the ladies of the town and the nearby area with the ever-changing patterns and fabrics they needed as active members of the local society. Bea's eyes swam in the sea of alluring muslins, threads and ribbons placed delicately in glass cabinets, or draped over the display counter like an elegant waterfall.
"Miss Lightfoot? I expected you an hour ago!" came the politely vexed voice of Mrs Johnson.
Bea quickly turned on her heels and rapidly returned her hand to her side; she had been told off once too often for touching the goods. Mrs Johnson was poised behind the counter in her deep purple satin with lace trimmings. Her hair was delicately arranged in a simple design, a perfect balance between showing her distinction from the other shopkeepers, but still not as grand as her customers. Now in her early forties, she still held a sincere elegance in her countenance. She stared down at Bea, drumming her fingernails on to the polished wooden counter, irritated. Majority of the women knew the lace she sold was created by a cottage girl, but seeing the evidence of its origins was another matter.
"Sorry Mrs Johnson, I had an errand to run.”
Mrs Johnson exhaled, her way of warning Bea not to let it happen again.
"Very well - have you got the six pieces I asked you for?" Mrs Johnson held out her hand delicately, as though disinclined to touch Bea's own. Yet it was these hands which produced the lace she requested. This had puzzled Bea at first, given her family's business brought in two hundred a year before costs, matching any other trade in the area. But a stigma of poverty still clung on to her hamlet and lingered above the cottage industries. Mrs Johnson opened the package, placed the contents on the counter and examined the lace with great intensity.
"Yes, they will do, I suppose… not as fine as the Paris lace, but we must get what we can," said Mrs Johnson.
Bea certainly knew straight away by looking at the women passing her in the town and at church whether the lace they were wearing was hers. More often than not, they were. Her jaw set.
"Here you go." Mrs Johnson presented Bea with three coins on to the counter.
"… But we had agreed on a pound, Mrs Johnson, since there was more work gone into these pieces?” The shopkeeper sniffed, and pushed the coins further towards Bea, who glared at her.
“I know how much you sell each piece of lace… for one of the simpler designs you charge up to two guineas. These six pieces are worth over ten pounds for you - this is all you want to give me in return?”
"Please lower your voice, Miss Lightfoot, believe me, you do not want to attract attention!" Mrs Johnson hissed at Bea, peering hastily round the crowded shop over her spectacles.
"We had an understanding Mrs Johnson, and, if you are not happy with the price, I could go elsewhere," Bea said in a low voice. "Two other shops in town have made me an offer to produce lace for them."
She allowed the words to hang in the air between them. This had been true a year ago, and probably still held today. But she prayed Mrs Johnson wouldn't call her bluff. She reached out and hovered her hand over the package, threatening to claim back what belonged to her. Mrs Johnson gave Bea a scrutinising look. The girl was too intelligent for her own good; if she didn't renege on her attempt to get a bargain, it would cost her in both price and customers. She put her hand in her pocket and placed two more coins on the counter.
"Do not be so hasty, Miss Lightfoot. I will pay you two more shillings for these pieces, and if you can deliver six more to the same standard by this time next month, then I will pay you a pound."
Bea knew when to keep fighting and when to stop. This was the time to do the latter.
"Very well, Mrs Johnson."
She lifted her head, holding her gaze, a new understanding lying tensely between them. Without another word, Mrs Johnson picked up the lace, turned her back and walked off in the opposite direction. Instantly engaging herself with a customer, she transformed back into her other agreeable, deferential self. Bea let out a breath and allowed her body to relax. She picked up the coins, which weighed heavily in her palm, and smiled wanly.
"I am impressed," a male voice breathed lightly into her ear.
Bea spun round to see Captain Hanley place his right palm to his chest and bow slightly. He was wearing a light grey woollen suit, the colour of the stone at the old harbour, with a long black overcoat and a black top hat. Today he blended in more with the other gentlemen in the shop, and she felt herself drawn in somewhat by his tall elegance and raw, handsome features. He stared down at her with a smile which Bea couldn't help but return. He in his turn noticed the same sweetness in her countenance as when they had met. But something was different with her today, a spark that illuminated her from within.
“Forgive me for startling you - good afternoon, Miss Beatrice Lightfoot.”
“Good afternoon, Captain Hanley,” she countered with a slight nod.
“My… sister, thank you for the beautiful lace." His broad shoulders and proximity inspired a confusing combination of attraction and defensiveness in Bea. Suddenly startled by her own thoughts, she felt herself becoming flushed. She smiled and took a step away from him.
"I am glad she liked it."
"What do you plan to spend your winnings on?" He inclined his head in the direction of Mrs Johnson. "I admire how you stood your ground."
"Thank you, Captain… I have to sometimes… she has tried it before."
A light-hearted smile spread across her face at the thought of her Mam's reaction if she ever found out how her daughter had behaved.
"Indeed, Miss Lightfoot?" his eyes lit up with interest. "So - is the money to go toward some of this beautiful fabric?" He stepped toward the glass counter, pointing towards the brightly shining rainbows cascading towards the floor. "This one in particular," he held a creamy muslin with flecks of gold, "brings out your eyes. No, this one, suits you better Miss." he simpered, doing an uncanny impression of Mrs Johnson as he grabbed hold of a golden silk fabric, reminding her of a winter sunrise.
For a moment she chuckled, her face bright with a smile. He smiled slowly in return. Then remembering where they were and with unfamiliar faces upon them, she straightened her face and took a step back.
"The money is intended for my family, especially," picking up the label and looking at the price, "with this muslin at a shilling a yard!"
"I assume you will attend the May Day dance attired in something?" he asked in a low voice.
"I’m not too sure I will attend this year, it depends.” She couldn’t help looking at the array of stunning fabric with desire before dropping her gaze. "I must be leaving; I have another errand and I'm already late".
"Of course, I have taken too much of your time. Until we meet again, Miss Lightfoot". He gave her what seemed like a genuine smile and lifted his hat to her as he bowed his head.
"And to you, Captain Hanley – good day." She gave him a small curtsey, turned, and headed towards the shop door.
"Good day, Beatrice," he murmured quietly as he watched her leave, pulling the door shut behind her.
Ropewalk: Rebellion. Love. Survival. Copyright: ©H D Coulter.
H D Coulter
Hayley was born and raised in the lake district and across Cumbria. From a young age, Hayley loved learning about history, visiting castles and discovering local stories from the past. Hayley and her partner lived in Ulverston for three years and spent her weekends walking along the Ropewalk and down by the old harbour. She became inspired by the spirit of the area and stories that had taken place along the historic streets.
As a teacher, Hayley had loved the art of storytelling by studying drama and theatre. The power of the written word, how it can transport the reader to another world or even another time in history. But it wasn't until living in Ulverston did she discover a story worth telling. From that point, the characters became alive and she fell in love with the story.
You can connect with the author via -
You can also find out more about the author and the book by visiting the other blogs on this tour.
That's it for now.
Till the next time.
Take care Zoe