Sunday, January 25, 2015

Shadow On The Highway based on the life and legend of Lady Katherine Fanshawe, by Deborah Swift

Title: Shadow on the Highway
Author: Deborah Swift
Genre: Historical Romance

May 1651

England has been in the midst of a civil war for nearly ten years. 

The country has been torn in two, and the King is getting ready to 

make his last stand against Cromwell’s New Model Army. 

Abigail Chaplin, a young deaf girl, has lost her father to the 

parliamentarian cause. 

But with her family now in reduced circumstances, she is forced to 

work as a servant at a royalist household - the estate of Lady 

Katherine Fanshawe. 

Abi is soon caught up in a web of sinister secrets which surround the Fanshawe estate. 

The most curious of which is the disappearance of Lady Katherine late at night.

Why are her husband’s clothes worn and muddy even though he hasn’t been home for weeks? 

How is she stealing out of the house late at night when her room is being guarded? 

And what is her involvement with the robberies being committed by the mysterious Silent 


‘Shadow On The Highway’ is based on the life and legend of Lady Katherine Fanshawe, the 

highwaywoman, sometimes known as ‘The Wicked Lady’. It is the first book in ‘The Highway Trilogy’. 

Praise for Deborah Swift: 

‘There is no greater compliment than “Give me more!”’ - Susanna Gregory 

‘realistic dialogue, an author’s obvious love for history, and characters that leap off the pages’ - 

Romance Reviews Today 

‘genuinely engrossing… with characters you can get interested in’ - The Mum Website 


Author Website:


May 1651

I knew why they sent me instead of Elizabeth to Markyate Manor, though they thought I hadn’t 


When Ralph asked Mother, I saw her lips say, ‘They can’t afford Elizabeth.’ 

If they whisper their mouths make the shapes even more clearly than when they just talk. And I’m 

deaf, not stupid. I listen with my eyes, that’s all.

On the day I was to go, Mother walked me the six miles over to the Manor, to make sure I got there. 

When she caught me dawdling she grabbed my hand in her dry calloused one to tow me along. Our feet 

left dark footprints in the dew as we went and my cloth bag thumped against my legs as Mother’s 

breath puffed out a rhythm of white in the chill, early-morning air.

We crossed the rutted highway to Wheathamstead, checking first for bands of soldiers. Cromwell’s 

unruly troops often used this route and they’d trodden it into mulch. On Nomansland Common a cow 

rubbed its bony backside on the empty stocks and the starlings flew up away from the hedge with a 

smatter of wings. As the sun rose higher Mother speeded her step, leaning into the journey as if she 

could not be there quick enough. I clutched the stitch in my stomach. 

Markyate Manor slowly solidified out of the morning mist, growing grander with every step, until it 

swelled over us with its towering red-brick chimneys. My breath caught in my throat. It was enormous. 

I’d get lost in there. Mother gave my arm another tug and pulled me out of sight of the front door, her 

head bent, skirting the corner of the house. I tilted my neck back, trying to see the top of the domed 

turrets but Mother frowned at me, ‘Quick! We’ll be late.’

Past glazed windows which seemed to hold no reflections, past ivy hanging away from the walls. 

Where was everybody? There was not a soul to be seen. At the peeling back door Mother jerked on a 

green metal handle, I imagined a distant bell. 

We waited. I wiped my face with my sleeve; I was hot from all the hurrying and it wouldn’t do to look 

unpresentable. The door opened and Mother pushed me on ahead. In the gloom my foot stubbed on a 

trunk and I had to reach out a hand to the wall to steady myself. The agitated young woman who had let 

us in had her gloves on already, the drawstring of her cloak was tied up tight around her neck, and all 

her bags stood in the hall. 

 ‘I’m Mrs. Chaplin and this is Abigail,’ Mother said.

 ‘Henshaw, that was the maid,’ the woman said, and sniffed, as if I smelt bad. ‘The wagon will be here 

any moment, so I won’t wait.’ Her words were clipped, as if she was biting them off, so I had no trouble 

reading them.

Deborah Swift lives in North Lancashire on the edge of the Lake District. She teaches classes and courses in writing, and is the author of three other historical novels: ‘The Lady’s Slipper’, ‘The Gilded Lily’ and ‘A Divided Inheritance’. You can find out more about her on her website,

Endeavour Press is the UK's leading independent publisher of digital books.

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