In the scope of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing month), which takes place every November when writers all over the globe devote themselves to penning down 50,000 words in 30 days, I’m working on my third novel with working title Daughter of the Alvar. Here’s a taster.
Place: Sweden, in the Island of Öland in the Baltic Sea.
Characters: the main character Ingrid Gunarsson, 16 year old, daughter of the Vicar of Smedby and her brother Johan Gunarsson, 20 years old, student of theology at Lund University. The third character, Kalle Ljundberg, who is only mentioned briefly, plays a major role in the book later on.
This is the beginning of Chapter 6. Please note that it is a work in progress and not yet edited.
Chapter 6 The Start of the Journey
The summer sped by as seems to be the trademark of that season and Ingrid was so engrossed in the approaching parting from her brother that her Kalle mission temporarily resided to the background. It was only Johan’s promise and her father’s consent that she could visit him in midterm that prevented Ingrid from falling into a deep depression. Although Johan had spent less time with her during his last leave than he had at other times, the mere fact of his presence in the lonesome vicarage on that remote island in the Baltic Sea had been enough to make Ingrid open her eyes with happy anticipation every morning. But 1 September was approaching with big strides and Johan was already collecting his books and papers, which were strewn over the dining room and his father’s study, both places he used to study and write.
“Don’t sulk, sister dear,” Johan said, pushing one of his dark locks from his eyes and fixing his steady grey gaze on the girl in her blue and white striped dress, who was sitting on a dining room chair with her legs tucked under her, hugging her knees, “You must be pleased that Papa gave you permission to come and stay with me in Lund. It’s only seven weeks from now. The time will fly past without you noticing it.”
“On the contrary, mon frère!” Ingrid stretched her legs from under her long cotton skirt and got up from the chair, a defiant look in her blue eyes, “they will crawl past like lazy spiders. I will be counting the minutes and the hours.” Then she added a little less fierce, “Oh yes, I am very, very happy with the prospect, of course, but I’m also slightly anxious that I will look quite passé in my Öland outfit. Are you sure the ladies in Lund will not turn their heads and think me quaint?”
“Why would they, dearest sis? You look lovely even in this simple housedress but then again I am not up-to-date with fashion as I have not the least interest in it.”
“There you go,” Ingrid cried, throwing herself on the chair again, “there is nobody in the whole world who can tell me what to wear in Lund as none of the ladies here on the island have ever been there. So even haughty Elise Aberg, who claims she’s the most fashionable girl on Södra Öland, is not going to be of any help to me.”
Johan looked helpless. He hated it when his sister had one of her tantrums, especially if he saw no way to lighten her burden for her. But a flash of inspiration came to his rescue.
“What about the lovely dress you wore on your 16th birthday party? You could bring that? Everybody was saying you looked absolutely stunning in it.” The idea worked wonders.
“Mr Malkovitch! Of course!” Ingrid jumped up again and into her brother’s arms, “how could I forget his Kalmar atelier! Oh I must persuade Papa to let him make an entire new wardrobe for me. He will know what fashionable city girls are wearing these days.”
With the crisis over, Johan devoted himself to organising his notes again and Ingrid skipped off in search of her father. It was so typical of her age that she was completely oblivious of her recent interest in working for the poor while now her head was swimming with mousseline, fur and lace and of course the most delicate Gants de Suede, extra soft gloves.