Today I am joining the blog tour for Julia Ibbotson’s latest novel, A Shape on the Air, and I have the privilege of sharing an extract from the book with you. Many thanks to Julia for allowing me to share this, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.
Unlocking a love that lasts for lifetimes – and beyond! When Dr Viv DuLac, a medievalist, slips into 499 AD and into the body of Lady Vivianne, little does she realise that both their lives across the centuries will become intertwined as they fight for their dreams … and their lives. How can the key which Viv bring back with her to the present unlock the love they both crave, and help them through the dangers they both face? And how can they help each other across the centuries, without changing the course of history?
A Shape on the Air is the story of two women 1500 years apart. Can they help each other to achieve their greatest desire? And what if the world they want is not the one that’s best for them? University lecturer in medieval studies, Dr Viv DuLac, is devastated when her partner walks out and threatens her home. About to lose everything, drunk and desperate, her world quite literally turns upside down as she finds herself in the body of the fifth century Lady Vivianne, who is struggling with the shifting values of the Dark Ages and her forced betrothal to the brutish Sir Pelleas. He is implicated in the death of her parents. Haunted by both Lady Vivianne and by Viv’s own parents’ death and legacy, can Viv unravel the web of mystery that surrounds and connects their two lives, and bring peace to them both? A haunting story of lives intertwining across the ages, of the triumph of the human spirit and of dreams lost and found.
This extract from A Shape on the Air is from the second chapter, when Dr Viv DuLac, devastated by her partner’s betrayal, has fallen into the dark Cooney’s mere at midnight and finds herself in a different time …
A deep male voice came faintly from far away and slowly entered her consciousness.
Viv felt a strong arm grip her waist and then she was floating, being drawn gently through the water. She gasped for breath as she rose, and her mouth filled with balmy air, sweet and fragrant. Oddly, it was light, and the sun was just starting to sink into dusk.
“What …? In heaven’s name …?” Viv spluttered, as the man lifted her up and over his broad shoulder and, splashing through the shallows, carried her to the bank. The world swirled around her and she found it hard to focus. She tried to draw in her breath but her chest felt too tight. She was trapped against him. Her body felt strange, her dripping sleeves seemed wider than they should be, her jeans somehow flapping against her legs. She was soaked through but yet the mere seemed to be calling her back again. She tried to twist round to it but the man only held her tighter. She grabbed hard at his shoulder and a piece of wet cloth tore away in her hand. It felt strange, not a fabric she was familiar with, thick and closely woven, but not rough.
He lowered her to her feet and grinned down at her. His eyes were dark like smoke, skin olive and exotic, and he ruffled his long dark curly hair to flick away the water that soaked it. She stared at his large wide mouth and the dark shadow that swept his chin and upper lip. His smile was intimate, as if they shared a secret. For a moment, Viv felt her brain somersault. Her mind was drifting in and out of consciousness.
She was aware of movement around her and she tore her eyes away from him. There were people, men, their figures moving out of focus behind him, their voices echoing as if from far away. There were trees that she didn’t remember being around the mere. It seemed wilder than it should have been. Yet everything within a few feet of her was exceptionally bright and clear, the light picking out all detail: the veins on the leaves, the knobbles and crevices of the tree bark starkly sharpened in high relief. Beyond that, all she saw was misty and swirling.
As she clenched her hands into fists she realised that she still held the torn fragment of cloth, and made to thrust it into the pocket of her jeans. The pocket was no longer there. She looked down and saw that she wore a long skirt, the dark wet fabric clinging to her legs. Good god, what was happening?
Viv looked back at the tall figure before her. He was dressed in some kind of loose cream tunic, dripping with lake water, with a brown leather belt that was finely tooled in gold, and as she stared he pulled on his boots that he had left at the water’s edge.
She looked wildly around her. The other men were dressed likewise in tunics, though not so fine. There were horses higher up on the bank-top; she could hear their loud snorting and feel the juddering of the earth as they stamped their hooves. What was this? What was going on? Her brain didn’t seem to be working properly; she felt confused, dull-witted. The sun was sinking behind the trees, leaving a trail of bloody streaks, red and orange, in the sky. Yet she had stumbled into the lake in the dark. She remembered staggering, a hand on her back, clutching for the branches to halt her fall into the water, floundering, or being pushed? Her clothes … her peculiar-feeling body … these people.
Her hand found a pouch hanging from her waist within the folds of her soaking skirt and she thrust the fabric into it, hiding it, though she had no idea why she needed to.
“Sir Roland,” murmured one of the men, holding out to the dark-eyed man a large, heavily embroidered crimson cloak which her rescuer swept around his shoulders and pinned with a huge gold brooch, covering the torn seam. As he did so, he glanced at Viv and smiled intimately again, his glance insolently drifting down to the clinging folds of her skirt and the pouch where the fragment of cloth nestled. His eyes found hers. Embarrassed, she turned away.
“My thanks, Arfon,” he said to his helper. “And now we must bring Lady Vivianne back to the mead hall with all haste.” He grinned at her. “She may need to change her gown first, though; it is not fit for public view.”
Viv felt a shudder rise up through her spine.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Acclaimed, award-winning author Julia Ibbotson is fascinated by the medieval world and concepts of time travel. She read English at Keele University, England (after a turbulent but exciting gap year in Ghana, West Africa) specialising in medieval language, literature and history, and has a PhD in socio-linguistics. She wrote her first novel at 10 years of age, but became a school teacher, then an academic as a senior university lecturer and researcher. As well as medieval time-slip, she has published a number of books, including memoir/history of food (The Old Rectory), children’s medieval fantasy (S.C.A.R.S), a trilogy opening in 1960s Ghana (Drumbeats), and many academic works. Apart from insatiable reading, she loves travelling the world, singing in choirs, swimming, yoga and walking in the countryside in England and Madeira where she and her husband divide their time.
Win a Paperback copy of The Old Rectory, book mark, postcard, key ring, handbag fob. (UK Only)
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.
Make sure you check out the other blogs taking part in the tour for more information about A Shape on the Air.