The Nanny at Number 43 written by Nicola Cassidy, publisher Poolbeg Press, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.
To buy link: https://amzn.to/2G5kMdp
Wanted, a respectable woman to care for a motherless child.
When William D. Thomas’s wife dies in childbirth, he places an advertisement in his local newspaper seeking a nanny for his newborn child.
He is thankful when an experienced nanny arrives at 43 Laurence Street and takes over from his frazzled housekeeper Mrs McHugh.
Mrs McHugh confides in her bedridden friend Betty, who has a bird’s-eye view of all the happenings on Laurence Street, that the Nanny is not all she seems. Betty begins her own investigation into the mysterious woman.
When the bodies of twin babies are discovered buried in a back garden, by a family who have moved from their tenement home into a country cottage, a police investigation begins.
But it is Betty who holds the key to discovering who the Nanny really is … and the reason she came to 43 Laurence Street.
I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Nicola Cassidy’s latest novel: The Nanny at Number 43. I have the pleasure of sharing an excerpt with you all:
Slowly, she counted the numbers, looking at each door as she passed.
She walked by a house painted pale blue and came back to read the black iron numbers on the door: 43.
She was early. The door was grimy. Two low windows were set in the facade, white windowsills turned grey. It wasn’t the most attractive house. She could see up ahead that there much finer buildings, with railings and steps and basements. Her gloved finger lingered on the button doorbell. Changing her mind, she lifted the large knocker, knocked three times and stood back.
No answer. She waited for another few moments. Impatiently, she tapped her boot on the pavement, curling her lip slightly, thinking. She lifted the knocker again and was about to try another rap when she saw the curtain twitching at the front.
Within seconds, the front door swung open, a frazzled woman holding it, hissing, “You’ve wakened her! Can’t you read?”
She pointed to a small white card pinned below the knocker, printed in capitals, emphasising the commands.
NO VISITORS. NO DOORBELL. KNOCK GENTLY.
“I’m here about the advertisement. About the baby.”
“Oh,” said the woman, her face softening. “Oh, of course. Come in.”
She crossed the limestone step and stood in the hallway. It was tiled in tiny small squares, a patterned mosaic in beiges and browns. The woman led her into the front room where the white net curtains blocked the light from the street.
“I’m Mrs. McHugh, the housekeeper,’ she said. ‘Please, take a seat.”
The room had a high ceiling and two low Queen Anne velvet couches. She sat down, perching her behind on the edge of the couch, looking round her when the woman left the room. Two vases of decaying flowers stood on the hearth. Their scent filled the room, an acrid smell. A cabinet filled with china and ornaments was placed near the door, the surface covered in dust. In the corner near the fireplace was a small writing bureau, in the same colour wood as the cabinet. Its lid was open, papers stuffed in the pockets, newspapers, pens, ink and string piled up in a mess. Everything needed a good clean. She expected there hadn’t been time.
Minutes passed. She kept her posture, not allowing herself to sag. She could hear movement upstairs, but still no one came to attend to her.
A cry rang out. A newborn cry. It hung in the air, sharp, painful.
After some time, she got up from the couch and walked around, her heeled boots digging into the light-blue wool rug. It was pretty, a soft pink rose woven into it. Black streaks nestled in the fibres.
The door opened behind her and she turned to find a man standing there. He was tall, his face thin, his shock of black hair wetted and smoothed on his head. He looked dishevelled and tired.
“Good morning,” he said, his voice low. He had a large black moustache, a small gap between it and his sideburns. “I’m sorry for the wait. Do sit down.”
She returned to her seat and perched gently, leaning forward, keeping her chin up.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” she said.
He sat down, pulling his trousers up slightly to allow his long legs to bend.
“Yes,” he said. “A terrible loss.” He paused, no emotion showing on his face.
“Can you tell me about yourself … Miss …?”
“Miss Murphy,” she said. “Margaret Murphy. Well, I’m from Dublin. The south side. Rathmines. I worked as a governess for the past three years. They’re gone to boarding school now. Lovely girls. I was sad to leave. Before that I was with another family in Dublin. And before that I worked in Wicklow.”
“And babies?” said Mr. Thomas, “What experience do you have with babies?”
“Oh, I adore babies,” she said. “My family in Wicklow had a wee one who I was very attached to. The baby is three weeks old, sir?”
“Four,” he said. “She’s four weeks now.”
“And how is she doing?”
He paused. “Not very well, to be honest,” he said. “She is crying. Hunger, I think. Mrs. McHugh tries her best, but she cries day and night.”
“Ah,” she said. “That can happen with the bottle, you know.”
“Can it?” he said.
“I have a lot of experience with bottle-feeding. My family in Wicklow decided on the same thing, not to go with a wet nurse, so I am well used to making up bottles. It causes extra wind in the child, you see, so you need to give gripe water, something to ease the poor little mite. Yes, I have plenty of experience with that.”
He looked relieved. “Well, that’s good then. And references, have you brought any?”
She picked up her case and put it on the couch, clicking open the locks. She sifted through the papers inside and produced her references, one stamped with a wax seal.
She rose and handed them to him.
“Yes,” he said quietly to himself as he studied them. “Very good.”
Well I hope the excerpt has whet your appetite for more, the story sounds very intriguing and mysterious.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Nicola Cassidy is a writer and blogger from Co. Louth, Ireland.
She started her writing career early, entering short story competitions as a child and became an avid reader.
Encouraged by her English teachers, she chose to study journalism at Dublin City University and while working in political PR and marketing, studied a series of advanced creative writing courses at the Irish Writers’ Centre.
Later she set up a lifestyle and literary blog http://www.ladynicci.com/, which was shortlisted in the Ireland Blog Awards in 2015 and 2016 and finalist in 2017 and 2018.
She signed with Trace Literary Agency in 2016.
December Girl is Nicola’s debut historical fiction novel and is set in the mystical and ancient Boyne Valley, Co. Meath, famed for its stone age passage tombs. Elements of the story are inspired by true events.
Her second novel The Nanny at Number 43 is published by Poolbeg Press.