Under These Restless Skies will be released on February 20, and every day until then, I'll be posting a small excerpt. You can check out the book's blog here, including more excerpts and information on the Tudor historical characters in the story, and the legend of the selkies on which the story is based.
“A ‘friend,’ ” Anne mused. “For many years, I have used that term to describe one who supported my family interests, those who were allies of the Boleyns and the Howards. I never had anyone to whom it applied to for reasons of affection.”
“What of Margaret? She loves you.”
Anne quirked her lips. It couldn’t be called a smile. “Margaret is practical. As she should be. This is not a world in which we can act based on bonds of affection.”
“It could be,” Emma said. She watched the sewing ladies, their heads bent together in whispered conversation.
“Nay, I think not.” Anne’s expression was thoughtful. “The desire for wealth and prestige is not compatible with kindness. What profit is there in bonds of affection with a son or daughter you intend to sell into marriage to gain a title or a manor?” She took a steadying breath. “Or falling in love with a man you will be forbidden to wed?”
“It does not have to be that way.” Emma pitied those women, laced into stiff, uncomfortable gowns with jewels around their throats and fingers, pierced through their ears, and even sewn to their garments. Like the sideboards that showed off a family’s gold plate, these women were walking displays of their family’s wealth of gems. They all now wore the French hood Anne preferred, not because they liked it, but because wearing the gable hood would mark them as Katharine’s partisan.
Anne gave Emma a sad smile. “Oh, Emma, this is the way of the world. Maybe true friends are to be valued like diamonds, because they are so rare. And a kind heart is the rarest jewel of all.”