Title The Orange Grove
Author Kate Murdoch
Genre Historical Fiction
Publisher Regal House Publishing
Blois, 1705. The château of Duc Hugo d'Amboise simmers with rivalry and intrigue. Henriette d'Augustin, one of five mistresses of the duc, lives at the chateau with her daughter. When the duc's wife, Duchesse Charlotte, maliciously undermines a new mistress, Letitia, Henriette is forced to choose between position and morality. She fights to maintain her status whilst targeted by the duchesse who will do anything to harm her enemies. The arrival of charismatic tarot reader, Romain de Villiers, further escalates tensions as rivals in love and domestic politics strive for supremacy. In a society where status is a matter of life and death, Henriette must stay true to herself, her daughter, and her heart, all the while hiding a painful secret of her own.
‘‘What do you want?’
‘I am Léonard’s wife. You must be Madame Rochard. Your nephew has been captured and he told me to find you. You have something of his, I believe?’
‘I have his blood and that is all.’
‘I beg you, madame. My husband told me to find you. We need help and you do have something for us.’
‘I do not. Good day to you.’
Henriette wedged her foot in the door as the woman attempted to shut it.‘I refer to the gold bars Leonard gave you, the gold you keep hidden beneath your floorboards.’
Madame Rochard gave a mirthless laugh. ‘You see before you a fine example of reverse alchemy, madame, the miraculous transformation of gold into stone and mortar. Now leave, before I set the dogs on you.’
‘The gold was meant to support us if Léonard was imprisoned. What do you expect me to do? Sell myself on the street? You say you carry Léonard’s blood. So does this innocent child. If you won’t help me, please help my Amalia.’ The little girl looked up at the older woman, her grimy face pleading.
Madame Rochard sighed. She fished a small drawstring bag from the folds of her skirt, and pressed a handful of louis into Henriette’s palm. ‘This should cover your travel to Blois. Saint Bernard de Thiron is a convent where you can leave the girl. Mention my name to the abbess, she knows me well. Wait here.’ She turned and disappeared into an adjoining room.
Henriette’s heart hammered in her chest and she gripped Amalia’s hand, her mouth dry.
Madame Rochard returned with a small piece of paper. ‘This is the address of my friend, Madame Tavel. She has connections at the Château d’Amboise. They are often looking for servants there. Good day.’
Before Henriette had a chance to reply the door had clicked shut and she was left standing with Amalia, watching the fog lift on the gridded gardens.’
Read N. N. Light’s Book Review:
Kate Murdoch exhibited widely as a painter both in Australia and internationally before turning her hand to writing.
Her short-form fiction has been published in various literary journals in Australia, UK, US and Canada.
Her debut novel, Stone Circle, a historical fantasy novel set in Renaissance Italy, was released by Fireship Press in December 2017. Stone Circle was a First in Category winner in the Chaucer Awards 2018 for pre-1750’s historical fiction.
Kate was awarded a KSP Fellowship at the KSP Writers’ Centre in 2019 to develop her third novel,The Glasshouse.
Her novel,The Orange Grove, about the passions and intrigues of court mistresses in 18th century France, was published by Regal House Publishing in October 2019.
Social Media Links