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The year is 1887. In a decaying country house Mary Ann Sate, an elderly maid servant, nurses Mr Cottrell, a man she knew well in her youth. Mr Cottrell does not have long to live and so asks Mary Ann to write down the story of his brother, Ned, who fought for The People’s Charter and for improved wages in the textile mills of the Stroud Valleys.

But as soon as Mary Ann begins to write, anger takes control of her pen. Which story should she write? Maybe it is time for the truth about the Cottrell brothers to be told. As Mary Ann unravels the knots of the past, she comes to see how her love for the brothers destroyed the life she might have had.

Should she now avenge the dead? Or can the mere power of her faltering pen enable her to reclaim her own truth?

Once the initial subscription has been raised then Alice's share of the profits (50% of every book sold) will go to Emmaus - a charity who support homeless people in Gloucestershire and are part of a federation of 350 organisations in 37 countries around the world.

The Emmaus website is here.

Alice Jolly is a novelist, playwright and teacher of creative writing. Her memoir (‘Dead Babies and Seaside Towns’) was published by Unbound in 2015 and won the Pen / Ackerley Prize. In 2014 she was awarded the V.S.Prichett Memorial Prize by the Royal Society of Literature for one of her short stories (‘Ray The Rottweiler’). Her two earlier novels (‘What The Eye Doesn’t See’ and ‘If Only You Knew’) are both published by Simon and Schuster. Her articles have been published in The Guardian, The Mail on Sunday and The Independent and she has broadcast for Radio 4. Three of her plays have been professionally produced by The Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. Two of these plays were funded by The Arts Council. She teaches for The Arvon Foundation and on the Oxford University Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. She has lived in Warsaw and in Brussels. Her home is now in Stroud in Gloucestershire and she is married to lawyer, Stephen Kinsella.

If you tell a story oft enough
So it become true

Words like the twisting grain of wood
Or the course of a slow running river
Have ways they must evr go

Who might I be to wield the axe cross the grain
Or try to untwist the flow of water

Yet I take up this my pen
To set down here my story
Bone blood brain

What does a soul look like
If you write him on paper
Yes soil also how may he be held
Within this fragile mesh of words

Yet so tis certain
Soil hisself must find his tongue
My story being but one speck of grit
In the swelling ballad of these valleys

Oh how I do love to see them once again
The light brush cross their emerald edges
As the sun bloom and wither day on day

Soil soul and sin too
Soon all one
The hours hurry at my shoulder
The words will not wait

Yea these valleys were my beginning
I come here first on the black ridge of the night
A coach tumbling falling many clattering mile
I know nothing afore

I sit on the back next a basket of chickens
The coach roll and pitch stars unspool behind me
Through a banner of black

The coach cut through all
Chickens screaming feathers poking out
Through the thick twist basket weave
My hand numb as I grip tight head nodding

Not a house a tree a man a beast or a devil
Only the road
Slap of the horses hooves creak of a wheel
Tear and drag of a wind
Tips and tussles distant trees
Til sudden the coach falls forward into Stillness

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