Home, Honeysuckles, and War - Snippets of Stories

#via A Love that Never Fails board
'To plant a garden is to believe in a tomorrow' 
- Audrey Hepburn

My journal tells me I have not posted a 'Snippets of Story' hosted by Katie in well over a year (March I think), and you've all not had the occasion to read anything else from A Love that Never Fails since the Christmas of 2012. Dear me! That's a sorry state to be in for sure, and one to be remedied at once. I had been meaning to share bits of what I've been writing for a while... but with its odd ends and threads, and with things being so meshed up between what I have actually written and what is inscribed in my brain (The Creative Idea, as Sayers would put it), I've felt quite challenged to dig out appropriate snippets. Slow as progress seems, one does seem to stack up a little writing over a year's time. So, in working on this post I've kept thinking, 'oohh, they won't GET this line unless they read this paragraph, they won't get this paragraph unless...' or 'ohh, this needs so much editing! But it is brilliant, and such an intrinsic part of the book. Jolly! I MUSTN'T LET THE CAT OUT OF THE BAG!' Oh well, that's why I've delayed this post so long.

In regards to actual progress: as I'm now back to a new school year, with the looming cloud of schoolwork, exams and such, I can see how it is going to be hard to pursue more 'publishable' writing until after I graduate. But that's okay! I can still scribble :). As it is with A Love that Never Fails, I feel I am writing the story... not the book at this stage. I am taking down notes from my characters... they are telling me their lives, and I am trying to scrawl it on the edges of old, dog-worn notebooks and unfinished word-documents... until that distant day when it all fits together, by God's grace. 

Oh! Snip-Whippets...
'Please - please, don't ask me, dear girl!...'
 She felt the raw emotion in his voice, saw a shattered soul in his eyes, and heard the confusion of his heart. If only she had not asked! Ernest hid his face in his hands; he tried to keep back the tears--manly tears she thought them, and loved him the more for shedding them.
 'Some things are best left unsaid,' she said at last, rising from her seat. She lifted the kettle from the stove and poured the tea into his cup, watching the steam waft and curl between the two of them, veiling them in transparent curtains.

‘He’s always been faithful,’ Rosemary said in her quiet voice, her eyes taking in the desolation of the empty house. She walked over to her son and placed a hand on his shoulder. ‘He cares for the sparrows, George, and He will care for you too. Of that, I am sure.’

‘Tut, tut! That won’t do, George – you know that! Send her to a boarding school for girls. I know one in Lancashire which is a quality establishment with matrons; it will be just the thing for your Jane!’ Reid rubbed his thumbs together and with the way the light fell on his gold-rimmed pince-nez George could not see the kindly concern in his eyes.


‘What about Miss Taylor?’ Jane asked softly, her big round eyes meeting her father’s; she fondled Tabby, her orange striped cat that padded in from the hallway and sat on her lap. ‘She’s stayin' too, isn't she?’

At that moment, the young schoolteacher slipped into the living-room, as she took off her apron. A faint shred of colour stole into her cheeks, but she briskly dried her hands and smiled encouragingly at Jane. ‘Your father and grandmother will look after you now, darling—but we’ll be seeing each other a lot at school, won’t we?’
Unfortunately, Jane got tongue-tied; naturally, that left George in what people call 'awkward positions'. 


'You wretched blunderbuss!'
Ernest turned his head up from the mangled body; his muscles tensing, his whole body tipped for flight. Captain Pole, covering a gaping burn on his face with a gloved hand, scrunched his boots against the gravel and flung his dog leash towards Ernest. 
'By thundering George, what do you think you're doing?'
The roar of enemy planes, far away now though they were, almost drowned out his voice. 'He is... was... breathing.'
'"Was" you said,' Pole scoffed. 'Was! The man is turned cinder and ash. What do you think you are-a fool?!?'
 'I'm a doctor...' Ernest said, and his voice cracked, '... was.'

Jane stood by the old shed and watched the bleeding shades of evening blue and orange sky paint the farmstead with gentle golden hues. The crumpled old tractor with green rust marooned conspicuously by the row of tangled mulberry trees leading to the Munson houseplace; the honeysuckles with cherry-red tips, and the fluttering blue butterflies by the pump - everything was touched with a grandeur and magic that was as fleeting as it was beautiful. The sun sank away beyond the encircling hills. It was a scene from a play - all gone in a flash.

'GET DOWN!' the man howled, his voice not sounding unlike an urgent wolf. Ernest obediently crawled into the hollow of the bushes, brushing off the thistles and briers tangled in his yellow scarf. Poor scarf. His sister would be as mad as a hornet, or as mad as the flying bullets above his head.

Reid, pulling sparks from the strained mood around the table, drained down his glass of wine, shaking his head. ‘War is inevitable for those of us who wish it to be so.’ He spoke in his clear, forceful way, pulling out his thick cigar broodingly. ‘But I say “No!” to this bloody warmongering between us and Germany; we cannot plunge this nation yet again into a war loosing countless lives after the last Great War. We must avoid it at all costs.’ Jane saw her father grimace in the following silence; his eyes remained fixed on the flickering candles, watching, it seemed, the uneven sparks of blue-flame rise and fall and sputter away. 

"I think of Poland and the stakes of freedom for the people of that nation and the way we play this chess game so selfishly. How fine these Poles are, so sensitive in their music, so fine in thought, so hard in battle! God knows that I—we all— do not wish for war. But one thing I do know... neither security, nor peace even is worth this sacrifice of truth... or our freedom.’

Ernest watched his classmate hop off the chair, and reach for his umbrella standing by the coat-hangers. ‘Professor Tulloch, bless him—he said I passed the physiology examination! The blighted thing...’ he chewed the words out of the corner of his mouth, ‘And I so badly wanted to go to Sydney. Now, I will be a stuffy old doctor and sit behind a stodgy consultation room before I am twenty-four.’
            Ernest' grin slid away into seriousness; he stuffed his hands deep into his trouser pockets. ‘Nothing stuffy about saving a human life.’

A sound of feet on the gravel, crunching behind her, made Jane turn about. It was Amelia. She sauntered up to her with an arrogant tilt of her neck and a scornful laugh up her sleeves; as she walked up close, Jane noticed a strange frightening fragility in the young woman's eyes, in the way she restlessly toyed with the top button of her pink chiffon blouse, and flicked bits of hair away from her mouth. With a sudden jerk of her head towards the house, she threw herself onto the oak bench. 'The patriarch is asleep,' she commented, her voice addled with bitter sarcasm. 'He's sleeping like a baby in the Nursery Rhythms.'

‘My father, with all his fastidious virtues for hard-work and integrity, is like a saint from a far... getting closer makes me in danger of his fangs...'

'It's all gold, Granny,' Jane let her fingers trace irregular circles on the piece of brick in her hand, 'in the sunlight it is like a mocking phantom of beauty. It's horrible!'

His nose buried back in the newspaper, Ernest licked his dry lips. Robert was right. The landscape had a way of pulling you towards it, haunting you with homesickness, reminding you of old half-buried memories. He shook his head, half-smiling. That first train ride with Dad—the way the leather seats felt clammy and ticklish against his small chubby palm, and the thing that made him feel so contented and secure in his father’s big arms as he pointed out the window towards the grazing cows, the mighty hills and the silver and brown brumbies galloping at their peaks.

His commander seized him by the shoulders and rammed him fiercely to the back of the wall. Ernest drew a ragged breath, as George's face contorted into what seemed something like a bodily pain.
  'This is a war, boy!'


  1. Goodness, girl! You write so well! I loved reading all you snippets and really liked:
    "I think of Poland and the stakes of freedom for the people of that nation and the way we play this chess game so selfishly. How fine these Poles are, so sensitive in their music, so fine in thought, so hard in battle! God knows that I—we all— do not wish for war. But one thing I do know... neither security, nor peace even is worth this sacrifice of truth... or our freedom"- you wrote that?!?
    Wow! I love learning about WW2 and reading anything concerning it, can't wait to read your book

  2. BY GEORGE. You can write, girl. My gingersnaps, you can write.

    I loved all of these bits, and Ernest particularly has my interest piqued more than ever.

    I find it fascinating, for I can tell you have derived much inspiration from Tolkien regarding style, and you wield that inspiration quite marvelously; or so it seems to me. "Ernest obediently crawled into the hollow of the bushes, brushing off the thistles and briers tangled in his yellow scarf. Poor scarf. His sister would be as mad as a hornet, or as mad as the flying bullets above his head." < This certainly reminded me of something Pippin or Merry or Sam would have thought in the midst of a battle, and I love how it can lighten a scene without robbing it of the emotional drama; rather, instead, adding to it.

    All I can say is, bravo! Three cheers! I was getting excited reading these snippets. I want to read this book. Muchly. Very very muchly.
    - em -

  3. Awesome snippets!

    By the way, I've awarded you at my blog! (sarah-plainandaverage.blogspot.com)

  4. Wow, Joy! Nice work! This is the first time I have heard of you, and I love the way you write. I am so glad I found you! Keep writing!

  5. Morgan, thank you so much for your sweet comment and your encouraging words. I am so glad you liked the bits you've read for my novel :). As for that particular snippet, I have to confess I got inspired by a quotation I found in a history/autobiographical journal where the author was speaking of Poland 'Blitz Boy', but it was mostly for inspiration and I did write that scene... <3 :)

    God bless!

  6. Emily, BY GEORGE, I I LOVE YOUR COMMENTS!!! Haha, thank you, dearest Em <3 You put a huge smile on my face reading your sweet comments... (always a joy to have you on Fullness of Joy!!). Hmm, interesting that you should say I have derived inspiration from Tolkien since he IS my favourite author alongside Lewis, Sutcliff, Gaskall and Patricia St. John and I have been so immersed in his books and stories the past two years, no wonder it has robbed off here and there, different genres though his works and mine are in! I never thought of this scene with Ernest that way - but as you said, yes, I can definitely see Pippen or Merry think something like that as they hide in the thickets (and Sam too!). I guess Tolkien drew from his war experiences, and they all somehow blend together. Hmm.

    Aww, I am glad you enjoyed these snippets. Your sweet encouragement means so much to me! God bless, dearest. Please keep me in your prayers, as you are in mine <3.

  7. Thank you so much, Sarah Elizabeth. And thank you for the tag! Sometime, I shall try to do it, if I get the time ;). It was sweet of you to add me in the list :). God bless!

  8. Bound and Freed, thank you very much! Welcome to 'Fullness of Joy' - I am glad you enjoyed these snippets. I was pretty excited to find your blog too. God bless!


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