The Road to Newgate written by Kate Braithwaite, publisher Crooked Cat Books, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format. The ebook is also included in the kindleunlimited scheme.
To buy link: https://amzn.to/2NadaHB
Product Details (as per amazon page)
What price justice?
Titus Oates, an unknown preacher, creates panic with wild stories of a Catholic uprising against Charles II. The murder of a prominent Protestant magistrate appears to confirm that the Popish Plot is real.
Only Nathaniel Thompson, writer and Licenser of the Presses, instinctively doubts Oates’s revelations. Even his young wife, Anne, is not so sure. And neither know that their friend William Smith has personal history with Titus Oates.
When Nathaniel takes a public stand, questioning the plot and Oates’s integrity, the consequences threaten them all.
The Road to Newgate is Kate Braithwaite’s second novel. Her first novel, CHARLATAN, was long-listed for the Mslexia New Novel Award and the Historical Novel Society Novel Award in 2015. You can find my review for Charlatan here.
On the publication day for the ebook for The Road to Newgate I am so pleased to share with you an excerpt from Kate Braithwaite’s latest novel.
Her sister comes. They confer upstairs. I’m sent to call the midwife and Anne’s mother, who arrives but will not even catch my eye. A succession of women flow in and out, upstairs and down, while I stand in the dining room listening to their footsteps overhead but without any way of knowing how things are progressing either for good or for bad. I hang around the bottom of the stairs, straining my ears, for what? A child’s cry? Anne’s cry? I hardly know what I want to happen, except for this thing to be over. Eventually, Sarah comes down.
“Go out, Nat.”
“What? Why? Shouldn’t I stay? Do something?”
She shakes her head and gives me a withering look. “It will be a while. The first always is.”
“But what if something happens?”
“Nat. She will be fine. God willing, they will both be fine. Go to Sam’s Coffee House. I will send a boy if there is any change. Trust me.”
“I…” What do I want to say? That I love my wife. That I might lose her. Or the child. Or both.
Sarah puts her hand to my cheek. “Go. But drink coffee. No ale and no wine. It will be hours Nat. When she needs you, I will have you fetched.”
Sam’s Coffee House has its usual midday mix of tradesmen, the odd lawyer, a few fellow scribblers I know. I avoid meeting anyone’s eye and sit down on an empty bench with a copy of the Gazette. The coffee-boy brings me a dish and pours my drink, slipping my penny in the pocket of his long apron. At any other time, the familiar mix of roasting berries and tobacco, the loud exchanges, even the touch of the tables and the smooth glaze of the coffee cup, would ease my mind. But not today. I stare at the Gazette but read nothing. Instead, I conjure up disasters.
Anne will die. I’m suspicious of the midwife. She’s a Quaker, which is, Anne has assured me, a good thing. But is she clean? Does she know her work? I chew on my cheek, thinking I should have been more involved in choosing this woman. After all, horror stories about midwives abound. If a child dies before being born, they often cut off limbs to facilitate removing the poor thing from the mother’s body. I imagine blood: Anne’s; the baby’s. A few years ago, a woman and her child died out in the street, slap in the middle of Threadneedle Street, after one so-called midwife held the woman by the shoulders while another witch ripped the child out of her body, killing them both. Images of Anne fighting for her life have me almost on my feet ready to run back home, but the thought of Sarah’s sensible face stops me.
To divert my mind, I brood on Anne’s family. That Anne threw herself away by marrying me is an accepted fact. My line of work, even when I was the Licenser, is viewed with derision. My haunting of coffee shops, as I believe her mother terms it, shows a tendency to gossip and idleness that they find particularly disappointing. Perhaps if I was haunting Will’s Coffee Shop, rather than Sam’s; perhaps if I was a proper writer, like Mr. Dryden, they might think differently. Dryden, famous, popular, and wealthy, keeps his own chair at Will’s, surrounded by literary wits. That’s Anne’s family’s idea of what a writer should be. Not the rather grubby news-gatherers, the cartoonists, lampoonists, and sharp-tongued opportunists I consort with. Only my loyalty to the Crown brings me any measure of approval. Sarah’s husband supposedly reads all my pamphlets, and Anne hopes that one day her younger brother and I might meet and get along. But even when the child is born, I don’t expect to be invited to dinner. A thoroughly bad mood settles on me, as thickly persistent as the coffee sticking to my teeth. Time crawls. It’s the longest day of my life.
About the Author
Kate Braithwaite was born and grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her first novel, Charlatan, was longlisted for the Mslexia New Novel Award and the Historical Novel Society Award. Kate lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and three children.