#ExcerptWeek – Living in the Shadows by Judith Barrow

51CLk1CvWvL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)living in the shadows

Chapter 27: Victoria

Thursday 25th September

Victoria was lonely. It was a week since she’d arrived and she hadn’t made any friends yet. She sensed most of the women resented her. Probably because she was Seth’s favourite, she told herself, pushing away the memory of two days ago.

She hadn’t seen him to speak to since then.

She thought it would be so different being in a commune; that she’d belong; be accepted for herself. Not as Richard’s stroppy sister, or her parents’ difficult daughter, which she knew was how they thought of her, but as one of the community here; as Seth’s girlfriend. It wasn’t turning out like that; not yet anyway. Two of the girls in the dorm had already complained about the amount of time she spent on herself instead of her taking on a share of the work. Well, stuff them, they could get lost. She had no intention of looking as grungy as they did. Any more than she was going to learn how to do the stupid knitting Jasmine had insisted she tried. She reckoned if she kept on dropping stitches Jasmine would give up on her. As for using that makeshift cooking range… Victoria shut out the humiliating scene. That woman, Chrystal, hadn’t needed to be so nasty, how was she to know she was supposed to check there was enough wood to keep the fire going underneath? Wasn’t that a job for the men? The tears came easily.

She breathed on the window and rubbed a circle in the grime on the glass with her finger. Peering out, she shivered. She hated it here.

She hated the rusted fence, just yards from the building she was in, and beyond it the expanse of wasteland. Hated the ugly skeletons of old buildings, mapped out on the ground by foundation stones, covered in pink weeds and coarse grass. Hated the spindly-looking shrubs growing from the collapsed ruins of the old mill. She especially hated the large corroded metal sheets that had replaced a part of an old fence, blocking off any view of the road beyond. By twisting her head she could just about see the large gates, padlocked together and leaning lopsidedly against two brick pillars. Like a bloody prison, she thought.

The excitement she’d felt last Wednesday as they drove away from the boring little village in Wales had gone. She’d replaced one stifling place for another.

If only they hadn’t walked by the canal that day.

She flopped down on her mattress and looked down the long room that was allocated to the single women in the commune. There was no one else around but they’d left their smells behind. She crinkled her nose against the smell…no, the stench, she thought the stench of sweat, of unwashed hair. Body odours. She pulled at the thin, horrid sheet of material that divided her mattress from the next. It didn’t reach far enough for her; she’d have liked to shut everybody out completely. The ‘so called’ curtains separating the twelve narrow mattresses weren’t enough to give Victoria the privacy she’d been used to.  But they were enough to make her feel cut off from the other girls when they chatted at night.

That was how she knew that Seth held the daily meditations that she hadn’t been allowed to go yet. All he’d said on the second day she was in the commune was, ‘I’ll know when you’re ready to join in.’

She listened to their discussions, jealous of their time spent with him, envious whenever one of them had been singled out for group contemplation. Wanting to feel part of what they shared. To learn how to find that spiritual peace she’d been unable to find. That Seth had promised her that day, way back in the summer.


judith headshot

Although I was born and brought up in a small village on the edge of the Pennine moors in Yorkshire, for the last forty years, I’ve lived with my husband and family near the coast in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, UK, a gloriously beautiful place.
I’ve written all my life and have had short stories, poems, plays, reviews and articles published throughout the British Isles. But only started to seriously write novels after I’d had breast cancer twenty years ago.  Four novels safely stashed away, never to see the light of day again, I had the first of my trilogy, Pattern of Shadows, published in 2010, the sequel, Changing Patterns, in 2013 and the last, Living in the Shadows in 2015. I’m now writing the prequel. Hopefully then the  family in this series will leave me alone to explore something else!
I have an MA in Creative Writing, B.A. (Hons.) in Literature, and a Diploma in Drama and Script Writing.  I am also a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council’s Lifelong Learning Programme and give talks and run workshops on all genres.
I also organise the Tenby Book Fair in September and, at the moment, am interviewing all the authors who will be appearing there on my website http://www.judithbarrow.co.uk.

When I’m not writing or teaching, I’m doing research for my writing, walking the Pembrokeshire countryside or reading and reviewing I review books for Rosie Amber’s Review Team #RBRT, along with some other brilliant authors and bloggers.

My Books:

Pattern of Shadows:
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/pattern-of-shadows
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1Riznh1 

Amazon.co.uk & Amazon.com

Changing Patterns:
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/changing-patterns
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1U1XmYD

Amazon.co.uk & Amazon.com 

 Living in the Shadows:
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/living-in-the-shadows-1
Barnes &Noble: http://bit.ly/1pHmeIh


50 thoughts on “#ExcerptWeek – Living in the Shadows by Judith Barrow

  1. Judith, thank you once again for taking part in our extended #ExcerptWeek. Lovely excerpts all, and this one is no exception. I know I’m going to thoroughly enjoy your books, as soon as I can get to them. (Which I hope won’t be too much longer!) I’ve sent this out into the world now, and hope you gain some new readers and followers as a result. And please know how much I appreciate your taking part! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marcia, the pleasure is all mine. I bless the day Rosie #RBRT recommended you as an author and a generous sharer of other author’s work. (Not sure that the last bit is grammatically correct! Hmm) Anyway, just to say so many thanks for this. Jx ❤

      Liked by 3 people

        • And of course, you KNOW you are going to be tested on your grammar and punctuation every time you post here, right? WRITTEN exams. (Neatness counts!!) 😀 😀 😀

          Okay, I’m totally making that up, because the fact that you are taking the time to comment on this blog means SO much more than whether you had extra time to go back and proof what you said. Or if you’re like me, you’re vision is so impaired, you don’t see half of your typos, anyway.

          WE ARE NOT KEEPING SCORE, I promise! We are having fun, and learning from each other, and sharing good things! ❤ ❤ ❤

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thank you, Marcia, I suppose,as a tutor of creative writing.. and an author, I am mortified when I get it wrong. LOL. You are so understanding… but am in my pyjamas with a dunes hat on. ❤ <3<3 Hmmm …. David, husband looks rather amused… 🙂


      • That is very sweet, Judith! But I have to say, I’m the one who should feel blessed (and I do!) for all the wonderful writers and readers who have followed this blog, and enrich my life every day of the week. Even when it’s not #ExcerptWeek. You guys are ALL wonderful, and those of you who share regularly (you know who you are), are just the best folks, EVER!\

        Judith, you’ve been a supportive part of this group since the day you joined, and I hope to see you here for many years to come! 🙂 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

        • Marcia, I’m going nowhere. I love being part of this ‘family’ of authors. Lovely people whom support one another. We may never ‘meet’ in the ‘real’ world but the encouragement we give to each other is invaluable. Love to all. Jx

          Liked by 1 person

          • You never know, Judith. I’ve met MANY of my online friends in the past, and who knows? Maybe one day I’ll get to come to your part of the world. I’ve always wanted to, and it COULD happen! I’ve already got Deborah Jay talked into to taking me to see MEN IN KILTS when I get to Scotland. I don’t think I should have to shuffle off this mortal coil without that experience. In the Highlands. Near standing stones. And men. In kilts. 😀 😀 😀 Don’t see why I can’t meet a few other friends whilst I’m over there. (You see what I did there? I’m being bi-lingual! Hahahahaha.)

            In the meantime, glad you plan to stick around! ❤

            Liked by 1 person

            • Bore da, (good morning)Marcia 🙂 One of the few Welsh phrases I know (unlike the grandchildren who are all fluent). I thought I should demonstrate a bit of bi-lingual-ism whilst I’m here. LOL. Can’t offer men in kilts in Wales.. but we do have brilliant male choirs (especially in Tenby). And glorious scenery. And the smallest city in Great Britain – St David’s, with a very impressive cathedral. Oh, and lots of sheep.. Writing day today. Yay!!! Jx

              Liked by 1 person

              • Oh, I’d LOVE to visit Wales! Though I can’t understand how anyone could ever learn to speak the language! It looks very, very complicated to me. But then, I speak Southernese, something most Americans find completely impossible to understand, much less speak. 😀

                I’ve seen pictures of Wales, AND, I’ve read some legends that I LOVE. And don’t you have some fantastic walking trails along the cliffs, etc, or is that Cornwall? Probably both! Over the years, I’ve read so many wonderful things, I’ve gotten some of the locations mixed up, I’m sure. But that’s okay, because I want to see them all. Even the ones without men in kilts. (Though maybe I could carry along a PICTURE of a man in a kilt, just to keep me inspired????)

                Liked by 1 person

                • I’ve actually tried six times over the years to learn Welsh, Marcia. the trouble is you’re expected to be able to write it as well and so many words change when they are in conjunction with others. Then there’s the problem of ‘correct’ Welsh learned and the Welsh that people speak in one part of the country is different from.another (even twenty miles away!) Not just accents – the words/phrases themselves. And, talking of accents, even though I’ve lived here almost forty years, I haven’t lost my Yorkshire accent (Northern England). So, getting my tongue around all the language has proved impossible. Someone once said to me that if you have a cold it’s easier to speak Welsh!! Which actually makes sense as it’s very ‘throaty’ with lots of spitty sounds. I think I’ll stop there just in case I’m insulting someone. But, as I’ve said before, I love living here and yes, the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path is magnificent (more so when walking with a man in a kilt – though he’ll look even better if he has good strong legs) Oh, and Cornwall is equally beautiful. Jx


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