He is Running from His Past - She is Escaping Her Future
Under the Emerald Sky - Excerpt 2
It's 1843 and the English nobleman Quinton Williams has come to Ireland to oversee the running of his father’s ailing estate and escape his painful past. Here he meets Alannah O’Neill, whose Irish family is one of few to have retained ownership of their land, the rest having been supplanted by the English over the course of the country's bloody history. Finding herself drawn to the Englishman, Alannah offers to help Quin communicate with the estate’s Gaelic-speaking tenants, as much to assist him as to counter her own ennui. Aware of her controlling brother’s hostility towards the English, she keeps her growing relationship with Quin a secret – a secret that cannot, however, be kept for long from those who dream of ridding Ireland of her English oppressors.
Among the stark contrasts that separate the rich few from the plentiful poor, comes a tale of love and betrayal in a land teetering on the brink of disaster – the Great Famine that would forever change Ireland's history.
I looked out across the land before me and saw its potential and felt the determination of the man beside me.
“I’ll help you,” I said, and our eyes locked for an instant.
Despite the fact that I hardly knew him, I felt myself being drawn to him, overcome with the urge to touch him, to place my hand on his cheek and run my fingers through his hair, to stand on tiptoe and kiss his lips. I thought I could see the same impulse reflected in the depths of his eyes, which shimmered like dark green pools in the sunlight.
But instead, after a long moment, he offered me his arm and led me back to the manor.
Having regained my composure somewhat by the time we got there, I declared myself delighted at the prospect of a tour of the house. Wandering through the rooms, though, I found that I was so distracted that I doubted I would remember anything he said. This was limited in any case, there being very little worth seeing inside. Although the estate’s former steward had evidently lived in the house, the furnishings tended to be restricted to the bare necessities, made in the simplest of styles. I suddenly wondered if Williams’ bedroom looked the same and blushed furiously at the thought.
“Are you all right, Miss O’Neill?”
“Yes, certainly, thank you. I do wonder if the tenants have arrived, though?” I stammered.
In fact, they had. And what a sad sight they were, huddled together in the large drawing room that opened onto the portico at the back of the house, the demesne spreading out along the grounds beyond. Dressed virtually in rags—in stark contrast to their opulent surroundings, even diminished though these were—their eyes spoke of a lifetime filled with unimaginable hardships and little hope of improvement.
Living in Ireland, a land where poverty was as common as dirt, I had seen my share of desperate souls, but something shifted in me at the sight of these men; men who had toiled and laboured their entire lives to be able to rent a tiny patch of farmland for their families, and who still looked as wretched as the poorest labourer with no ground to his name. I vowed then and there that I would do everything that I could to improve the lives of these men and their families, whom destiny had thrown in my path. At last, I had found a purpose, one far greater than the scholarly life I had dreamt of, which was closed to me in any case. For what greater purpose was there than to improve the lives of others?
Juliane Weber is actually a scientist. She holds degrees in physiology and zoology, including a PhD in physiology. During her studies she realised, however, that her passion lay not in conducting scientific research herself, but in writing about it. Thus began her career as a medical writer, where she took on all manner of writing and editing tasks, in the process honing her writing skills, until she finally plucked up the courage to write her first historical novel, Under the Emerald Sky. The book is the first in The Irish Fortune Series, which is set in 19th century Ireland around the time of the Great Famine.
Juliane lives with her husband and two sons in Hamelin, Germany, the town made famous by the story of the Pied Piper.