Michael S Hollington
Michael S Hollington qualified as a chartered surveyor. After spells in the City, Belgium and North America he spent the bulk of his career in Hong Kong, selling buildings on behalf of clients. He lives in London with his wife, Sarah. The Time of Cherries is his first published novel.
The Time of Cherries
The Time of Cherries is the story of Christine 'Kiki' Vellay, the daughter of vineyard workers, who is forced to marry an older man in exchange for a piece of land.
He abuses her.
She is seduced by a young naval cadet and plans to run away with him. When her husband is killed during the escape attempt she finds herself wrongly accused of his murder.
Kiki is on the run.
On reaching Paris in disguise, Kiki discovers she is pregnant and takes on various jobs to survive.
When her child is stolen from her, she begins a desperate attempt to find him.
Her story takes her from imprisonment in the infamous Conciergerie, to a chateau in the Loire, back to Paris under siege – as a spy – during the Franco-Prussian war, culminating in a dramatic conclusion in the final bloody week of the Paris Commune...the time of cherries.
Published in 2023 by The Book Guild
Copyright: Michael S Hollington 2023
How I came to write The Time of Cherries
Fifteen years ago I bought a computer – explored the keyboard. Found myself describing a motorbike accident I had witnessed on Sloane Street – the bike sliding under a lorry, the rider eventually staggering to his feet. And the story of a New York mafia boss who had ‘disappeared’ a man who had killed his son in a traffic accident.
I had a plot.
I was hooked.
At school, we had to precis Montezuma’s Daughter a novel by H Ryder Haggard. I took great care and loved the story. The teacher gave me a C, but commended me for effort – my written English had let me down.
I read the classics, including those by Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo – the Musketeers, Jean Valjean, my heroes. I loved adventure stories: the hardship…the heroism.
Despite gaining a modest haul of three O levels I came away from school with an abiding love of history, its characters.
On leaving school my mother frogmarched me to the local technical college where, not requiring A levels, I enrolled on a course which resulted in my qualifying as a chartered surveyor, a career which took me to Hong Kong. I got lucky – stumbled on the right place at the right time.
My job was selling properties on behalf of clients. Most of the work was a waste of time, a fraction of which resulted in a ‘deal’. I worshipped at the temple of Mammon, drank too much, did not like myself very much. In the end I loathed the office but had – and still have – a wonderful wife and family to keep me going.
I’ve tried to work out why I write. It’s to do with the academic thing – trying to prove myself. And an innate fear of boredom.
And I love it – a reason to get out of bed in the morning. The plot is always on my mind. The research is fascinating: digging into holes where I never imagined I would dig.
Winston Churchill said: ‘Writing a long and substantial book is like having a friend and companion at your side, to whom you can always turn for comfort and amusement.’
I agree with him.
From the outset I decided against writing courses. I wanted to be self-taught. I wrote two trainer novels before I judged Cherries as being worthy of publication.
Those two old French masters niggled at me. The Time of Cherries is the result. A woman, Kiki, seeking fame and fortune in Paris – just as D’Artagnan had done those centuries before – and convulsed by events beyond her control, as the Musketeers and Jean Valjean had been.