Fiction Fest: Another peek at Carla Kelly’s ‘In Love and War’

In Love and War_2x3 (print)Award-winning romance author Carla Kelly will be signing copies of her latest novel, “In Love and War: A Collection of Love Stories,” at the Orem Utah Barnes & Noble on Friday, Nov. 22, from 4:00-5:30 p.m. If you’re a fan of her earlier books, she’ll gladly sign a copy of one those, as well.

Kelly’s August 2013 release, “Safe Passage,” was recently nominated for a Whitney Award.

“In Love and War” is available in bookstores and from online retailers.

“IN LOVE AND WAR” EXCERPT:

Something New

Major John Redpath of the Royal Horse Artillery is returning to England, following Napoleon’s first abdication. The wife of one of his sergeants has assigned him the task of finding a suitable orphanage in England for Marie Deux, a young French girl that his battery found and acquired as a mascot, when she was a small child left in the ruins of a French battery after the third siege of Badajoz. What is he to do with Marie Deux? He’s fond of her, to be sure, but this is a puzzle.

The church bells in Toulouse had not ceased to ring since announcement of Napoleon’s abdication had reached the town from Bordeaux. Major Redpath could not begin to describe the gratitude that welled in his heart. He was alive, he was healthy, with furlough home in Scotland coming up, following a wedding in Bath. He looked out the window again. “Marie Deux, what am I to do with you now, lass?” he asked.

As it happened, she was seated in the courtyard below with the other laundresses’ children. Hands folded, feet together, back straight, she watched the Hurley’s toddler fall and rise, and try to join the others in their chase after a ball. Patiently she retrieved the squalling child, wiped his face like the little mother she was, and resumed her watch.

He smiled as he observed her. “Marie Deux,” he murmured, “were you ever young?”

He knew she couldn’t be much more than four, herself. Ed Parkhill had told him how they had found her among the French huns after the third siege of Badajoz, too starved to cry as they approached to look at the French battery, English artillerymen on a coachman’s holiday.

“She was all eyes on a scrawny neck,” Ed had told him several months later, when Redpath joined the Second Battery. “She just sat there and watched us.” Then Ed shook his head, amazed all over again at the perspicacity of little girls. “And then she held out her arms to us. Dash it all, but that’s how it is: I suppose daughters of the guns know sons of the guns, eh, sir?”

Poor Marie Deux, he thought, watching her, you were flotsam in a sea of war. Parkhill admitted to him later that his first inclination was to pass her by. “She would have been dead in a day, Major,” he remembered in the telling. “But we couldn’t. Call it artillerymen’s courtesy.”

Major Redpath understood. It was the same humanity that always compelled him to tour the remains of all French batteries following a battle. He had dispatched more than one horse struggling against a death, or French bombardier ghastly with wounds, begging and pleading for a quick end. Artillery was unforgiving and cruel to victim and server, he knew. He found a perverse fascination in sitting on a French limber and looking across the field, wondering about that point of view.

“We artillerists are always concerned about point of view, Marie Deux, for it is our business,” he said, looking out the window. “What would be best for you, now that your country is ours, and Boney is gone?”