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Cold Blows the Wind

An Australian tale inspired by author Catherine Meyrick's family history

Today I’m happy to welcome talented Australian writer Catherine Meyrick to the blog. I’ve always dreamed of visiting Australia and know little of its history, so this is a treat for me. Catherine’s latest book, Cold Blows the Wind, draws on family lore to create a vibrant and captivating story.

Cold Blows the Wind

Hobart Town 1878 – a vibrant town drawing people from every corner of the earth where, with confidence and a flair for storytelling, a person can be whoever he or she wants. Almost.

Ellen Thompson is young, vivacious and unmarried, with a six-month-old baby. Despite her fierce attachment to her family, boisterous and unashamed of their convict origins, Ellen dreams of marriage and disappearing into the ranks of the respectable. Then she meets Harry Woods.

Harry, newly arrived in Hobart Town from Western Australia, has come to help his aging father, ‘the Old Man of the Mountain’ who for more than twenty years has guided climbers on Mount Wellington. Harry sees in Ellen a chance to remake his life.

But, in Hobart Town, the past is never far away, never truly forgotten. When the past collides with Ellen’s dreams, she is forced to confront everything in life a woman fears most.

Based on a period in the lives of the author’s great-great-grandparents, Sarah Ellen Thompson and Henry Watkins Woods, Cold Blows the Wind is not a romance but it is a story of love – a mother’s love for her children, a woman’s love for her family and, those most troublesome loves of all, for the men in her life. It is a story of the enduring strength of the human spirit.

Excerpt—a sneak peek at the story

Ellen glanced ahead to check whether she needed to cross the street before she got to the Rob Roy, slowing her step at the sight of George and Alice standing with that skinny rat, Dan Rogers. George held a bundle in his arms too, a squirming bundle.

Ellen hurried up to them, scowling as she looked from George to Dan. ‘What’s going on here?’

George grinned at her. ‘We thought we’d give young Billy some air.’ There was a glitter in his eyes. ‘And then we ran into my mate, Dan, here.’ He nodded toward Dan. ‘That’s right, isn’t it, Dan?’

Dan nodded his head furiously.

‘And Dan was saying what a fine lad Billy is.’

Ellen raised her eyebrows. ‘Was he?’ She passed her parcel to Alice and took Billy, settling him on her hip and pressed her nose against his hair, breathing in deeply. She looked up to see Dan Roger’s forced smile.

‘Tell her yourself, Dan.’ George grinned.

The Adam’s apple in Dan’s scrawny neck bobbed up and down as he swallowed. ‘He’s a grand lad, he certainly is.’ There was strain around his eyes.

Ellen wondered what George had threatened him with.

‘I know,’ she said, still unsmiling. ‘He takes after his mother’s family.’

‘And Dan was saying he wants to give you something for the lad.’

Ellen pressed her lips tight shut against the laughter bubbling up. She almost felt sorry for the skinny gutter rat.

Dan’s eyes had bulged with surprise but he obediently put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a shilling. ‘Sorry, Ellen, I’m a bit short at the moment.’

‘Not so short you can’t buy a mate a drink for old time’s sake.’ George threw his arm over Dan’s shoulder and steered him into the bar.

Ellen held tight to the coin. She’d buy Billy a toy, that brightly coloured spinning top she had seen in the window of the pawnshop. She could already hear his burbling laugh.

Alice beside her, Ellen walked smartly across the street ahead of a couple of carts trundling down the hill. ‘How did George manage that?’

‘He asked him how his mate Hawkes was and Dan’s knees went wobbly.’

‘I’ll remember that if there’s a next time.’ She had forgotten Dan Rogers was related to Hawkes. Will and George had done a month in gaol three years ago for the hiding they had given him. Rogers should remember that Thompsons never forgot a wrong.

George said he’d get him to make up for being rude to you.’

‘I wish the mongrel wasn’t rude to me in the first place.’

‘Perhaps he’s sweet on you,’ Alice said.

‘What? No. He’s just a nasty little rat picking on someone he thinks is weaker.’ She stopped and stared at her sister. She was only eight years old. ‘Where did you get the idea boys behave like that? You’re too young …’

‘From you and Mary Ann. I listen.’ Alice skipped along beside Ellen.

They turned into Watchhouse Lane, past the mercifully quiet Sunday School on the corner. The children bellowing out their raucous hymns on Sunday mornings made sleeping late almost impossible.

‘Anyway.’ Alice spun around and skipped backwards as she spoke. ‘George said, with Easter coming, we should go up to the Springs and see Grannie and Mr Woods.’

‘Oooh, that would be good. We can all go and make a real party of it.’

‘Mr Woods has his son staying with him.’

‘I didn’t know he had a son.’

‘He’s come from wherever Mr Woods was from, but he’s old.’

Halfway along the lane, Ellen pushed open the gate with her foot. ‘I suppose he would be. Mr Woods is ancient. How do you know all this?’

Alice skipped in and stood holding the door for Ellen. ‘I listen.’ She grinned.

‘As long as you learn from what you hear,’ Ellen said, hoping her sister would learn enough not to get involved with feckless men.

Where to buy the book

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About the author

Catherine Meyrick is an Australian writer of romantic historical fiction. She lives in Melbourne but grew up in Ballarat, a large regional city steeped in history. Until recently she worked as a customer service librarian at her local library. She has a Master of Arts in history and is also an obsessive genealogist.

When she is not writing, reading and researching, Catherine enjoys gardening, the cinema and music of all sorts from early music and classical to folk and country & western. And, not least, taking photos of the family cat to post on Instagram.

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  1. Cathie Dunn says:

    Thank you very much for hosting Catherine Meyrick today, Amy. Much appreciated.

    Cathie xo
    The Coffee Pot Book Club

    1. Amy Maroney says:

      Always a pleasure!

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