Thursday 8 December 2022

Small Acts of Kindness by Jennifer Antill BLOG TOUR #SmallActsofKindness @jennifer_antill @UnicornPubGroup @RandomTTours #BookExtract


St Petersburg, 1825. Imperial Russia still basks in the glory of victory over Napoleon, but in the army and elsewhere resentment is growing against serfdom and autocracy.

Vasily, a pleasure loving, privileged young man, returns home from abroad expecting to embark on a glittering career. Having become entangled in an impossible love affair, he joins a conspiracy to overthrow the government. Threatened by exile to Siberia or death, he is forced to flee the Tsar’s vengeance.

Vasily hopes to rebuild his life in a distant provincial town. But he cannot forget his lost love, and now finds himself pursued by a rival who aims to destroy him.

Can he escape the past, mend his broken relationships and find a better way to change the world?

Small Acts of Kindness by Jennifer Antill is published in paperback on 15 November 2022 by Universe / Unicorn Publishing.

As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you here today. 

An extract from Small Acts of Kindness by Jennifer Antill 

12 December 1825, The City Barrier, St Petersburg

‘Open up!’

Sparks spiral skywards through the dark frozen air. The
sentry thrusts his blazing torch into the sealed wagon. Revealed in an arc of light, the prisoner shields his eyes. He staggers back and falls, unbalanced by his chains, and his head slumps onto his chest.

‘Let’s be seeing you!’

The man looks up, is dazzled, blinded.

‘You’ll do.’

An officer in the guardhouse scans the documents, stamps them, and hands them up to the driver, who, clumsy in his heavy furs, stuffs them into his boot. The city clocks strike midnight.

The door slams with a metallic clang; the bar drops; darkness returns. The wagon sways away into the night, taking the road towards Moscow. As the surface roughens, the vehicle bucks and judders. The prisoner is jerked back and forth, his body driven repeatedly against the rigid side. There is straw on the floor. He pulls a bundle towards him, trying to bury himself. The cold seems to dissolve his flesh, invade his bones; his throat is sore and very dry. They have left him a flask; he gropes for it. The water tastes of salt, of old leather. There seems to be bread too. He tries to eat. He cannot swallow.

He must think, must focus, and try to grasp what has happened, what damage he might have done. He had been with his friend the Englishman, opening the Madeira, enjoying the warmth of the fire when they had come for him. And now, suddenly, he is here, shivering, shackled, alone. Has he been deceived? Tricked? Are they, after all, taking him to the fortress?

The wagon picks up speed and achieves a smoother rhythm. He shuts his eyes and drifts into the past.

Jennifer Antill studied Russian Language, Literature and Politics, at UCL SSEES, and has travelled widely in the country, often living with Russian families. 

She gives talks on Russian cultural topics to a wide variety of organisations. 

In a former life she worked in the City of London as an Investment Analyst and for eleven years served as a local councillor. 

Jennifer is married to Nick, has two sons and lives in Suffolk.

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