The Painter’s Apprentice

The Painter's Apprentice

The Painter’s Apprentice is a follow on but stand-alone sequel to the e-book bestseller, The Apothecary’s Daughter.

Set at the time of the Glorious Revolution, when England is still beset by religious rivalries, this is a highly-recommended novel of love, tragedy and the power of art (Daily Mail online)

Shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association RoNAs award in the historical category 2014

Beth, a gifted botanical artist, declares she will never marry since she intends to dedicate herself to her art. But then her cousin Noah arrives from Virginia and sparks off a chain of events which change her life forever. She makes friends in high places and, against a back ground of rising political unrest, she plays a small but crucial part in the Glorious Revolution and so alters the course of history.

November 1687

Darkness had already fallen when shouts and then the sound of a whistle blown three times made Beth’s head jerk up from her easel. Her paintbrush slid from her hand and fell unheeded to the floor. Instantly alert, she reached for her own silver whistle, which always hung around her neck. Noises in the night were not unusual in a lunatic asylum but generally the disturbance came from within the walls, not from the outside.

Several sets of footsteps raced along the gallery and in the courtyard below Orpheus began to bark as furiously as if the Devil himself had knocked at the gate. Beth pushed open the casement and hung shivering over the sill to peer into the frosty night.

The servants had run outside with lamps and there was a throng of shouting people milling around in the flickering light. The commotion was too great for anyone to hear when she called down to them so she hurried to investigate.

In the stone-flagged hall the front door was wide open to the night air and Poor

Joan and a small group of anxious inmates huddled together, while Beth’s mother and her youngest brother, John, attempted to reassure them. Orpheus still raged outside, his barks reverberating around the courtyard louder than a peal of bells in a belfry.

Beth caught sight of her father’s black-clad figure striding purposefully across the hall and ran after him down the front steps and into the courtyard.

‘Orpheus!’ William Ambrose caught hold of the wolfhound’s collar and pulled his big grey head around to face him. The dog’s teeth were bared in a vicious snarl and spittle frothed his muzzle. William snapped his fingers. ‘Quiet, sir! Your job is done!’ Orpheus gave a throaty growl and William raised a warning finger. ‘Beth, take control of this hell-hound, while I find out what is happening.’

‘Yes, Father.’ Beth hooked her fingers through the dog’s studded collar and tickled his ears until he quietened.

Emmanuel and Joseph, the Steward, had a man pinned between them, his face pushed between the bars of the great iron gates. The prisoner fought furiously but he was no match for the sheer bulk and strength of the two black men.

‘Let him go!’ William’s voice rang out over the grunts and shouts of the struggling man.

‘We found him climbing over the gate,’ said Emmanuel, the whites of his eyes gleaming in the lamplight.

‘Put him down!’

Emmanuel looked at Joseph and winked. Slowly, they lowered the intruder, chuckling as they held him so that his feet hung just above the ground.

‘Down, I said!’

William held up the lantern to study the trespasser, who straightened his travelling cape, adjusted the lace at his cuffs and turned to face them.

The light illuminated a young man’s features, currently arranged in a scowl.

‘Well, Sir, what have you to say for yourself?’ A frosty cloud of William’s breath hung in the air between them but it wasn’t as wintry as the tone of his voice.

Beth didn’t envy the intruder. It had been a while since Father has spoken to her in that way and she sincerely hoped it would never happen again.

‘Forgive me, sir.’  The voice was that of an educated man but he didn’t sound at all as if he was seeking an apology. Bending over, he picked up his wide-brimmed hat, now severely trampled, dusted it off, tweaked the feather back into shape and replaced it upon his head. ‘I lost my way. The cart dropped me off in the village and some mischievous child thought it amusing to direct me to the wrong road. By the time I’d found someone to point me to Merryfields it was dark.’

Beth was astounded at how unruffled he sounded. He certainly didn’t behave like a common thief.

‘I rang the bell,’ the young man continued, as he stamped clods of mud off his high boots, ‘but no one answered. Since the gate was locked and the hour so late, I took the liberty of climbing over the top, intending to knock on the door.’

William frowned. ‘And the purpose of your visit?’

‘I have a letter for Mistress Susannah Ambrose.’

‘My wife.’

‘Then you must be Doctor William Ambrose?’

‘Indeed. And the content of this letter?’

The young man tilted up his chin. ‘I prefer to speak directly to Mistress Ambrose.’

Beth saw how the visitor, only a little older than herself she judged, met Father’s stare and couldn’t decide if he was fearless or simply arrogant.

William grunted. ‘You had better come inside before we all catch a chill.’

Joseph, his keys jangling at his waist, held the lamp up high and spoke to the servants. ‘Back to your duties, everyone.’

Orpheus growled again. Beth pulled on his collar and patted his wiry head.

William led the way up the steps and into the hall.

Shivering, Beth closed the massive oak door behind them and shot the bolts.

‘Susannah, my dear,’ said William, ‘this young man brings you a letter.’

Beth’s mother, her pretty face anxious, let go of Poor Joan, who had been weeping on her shoulder and came forward. ‘A letter? But what was all the shouting about?’

‘The servants merely became overexcited when they thought our visitor was an intruder.’

‘Well, for goodness sake!’ Exasperation showed in Susannah’s green eyes. ‘What a fuss about nothing!’

‘Let me present …’ William turned to the visitor, with an enquiring look.

The young man took off his battered hat, exposing a fine head of wavy chestnut hair, and bowed low to Susannah.

She gasped, her face turning as white as bone. ‘But …? It can’t be! Tom? Oh, Tom, is it you?’

And then, almost before her husband could catch her, she fainted.

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26 thoughts on “The Painter’s Apprentice”

  1. I have just finished reading The Appothecary’s Daughter. I loved every page of it.
    I am waiting in anticipation for August to come so I can buy The Painters Apprentice. It seems so far away, but really looking forward to it.

    • Hello Jayne

      I’m so pleased you loved The Apothecary’s Daughter – it makes all the effort worthwhile! I do hope you’ll enjoy The Painter’s Apprentice, too.

  2. Hello,
    I finished reading the Apothecary’s Daughter yesterday. I am only 11 but it is such a wonderful book I want to read more and more of Charlotte’s books! This book made me understand a great deal about the plague and since I have been learning about the plague at school its even more interesting!!! I cannot wait for the painter’s apprentice and i was really annoyed it was only coming out in August.

    • Hello Emilie
      I’m delighted you liked reading The Apothecary’s Daughter and I think you must be my youngest reader!

      I found it extremely interesting reasearching the plague. Useful books were Samuel Pepys’ Diary and Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year.
      It must have been terrible to live to live during those times, never sure who would become ill next and to be closed up in your house until you all sickened. Thank goodness for modern medicine!

      Did you see that you can read the first chapter of The Painter’s Apprentice on the website?

      Thank you for commenting – it’s lovely to hear from my readers.

  3. I have just finished reading The Apothecary’s Daughter and thought it was a fantastic, insightful and thoroughly enjoyable read! The characters are well thought out and written about and I found it impossible to put the book down! I cant wait for August to read The Painters Apprentice!
    Well done on your first novel and looking forward to reading many more 🙂

  4. I was looking for something to read, turned out I found The Apothecary’s Daughter in bookstore last week. And now after a good read (I mean, REALLY good read) I found myself aching with anxiousness, having to wait for August to come. Can’t wait for this one to come out!

  5. I commenced reading the Apothecary’s Daughter on Friday night and couldn’t put it down until I finished yesterday- no housework this weekend. A fabulous read and I can hardly wait for the sequel to arrive- I have ordered it from the bookshop

  6. Hello Maureen! It’s always lovely to hear that readers have enjoyed my books. Not long now until The Painter’s apprentice arrives in the bookshops!

  7. I enjoyed The Apothecary’s Daughter so much and can’t wait for The Painter’s Apprentice. Can’t wait to read the adventure of Lil Beth’s life and what has been going on in Tom’s. I hope I can wait that long and not go crazy to read the sequel.

  8. Hi Azureen! I’m happy you enjoyed The Apothecary’s Daughter and it’s not too long to wait for The Painter’s apprentice. It has such a lovely cover I can hardly wait ti hold the book in my hands myself!

  9. Thank you so much for writing such a wonderful and interesting book, I couldn’t put it down, it gave me hours of pleasure. I haven’t read a book for about 5 years as I have two very young children and this has got me hooked on reading again. I can’t wait to hear all about Beth’s life in the Painters Apprentice. I loved Susannah’s character, she was such a wonderful, inspiring person, so brave and strong and a genuinely lovely person. I was delighted that she found happiness with William in the end – I was starting to worry it wouldn’t happen! Thank you again. Julie.

    • Hello Julie

      I’m delighted that The Apothecary’s Daughter started you reading again. I always love to lose myself in a book – especially when real life is stressful. Let’s hope you give those lovely children of yours the encouragement to enjoy reading, too!

  10. I would like to thank you from the depths of my heart for your beautiful words in the apothecaries daughter, I am 21 and have found myself sick the past few weeks and decided to try reading a book. I had not read a book in years but I throughly enjoyed your wrighting, I even found myself making friends with your beautifully intricate characters. I cannot wait till o can get my hands on a copy of your next book. Thank you again for writing such beautiful novels, I have instantly become a fan and will be sharing your books with many friends and family.

    • Hello Jessica
      I’m sorry to hear that you have been unwell and hope that you are better very soon. Reading has always been a wonderful escape into another world for me, especially when life is tough. I’m happy that you enjoyed The Apothecary’s Daughter and hope you will like reading about the next generation in The Painter’s Apprentice.

  11. Bill Spence would love to review this for the Yorkshire Gazette and Herald, Charlotte, if Piatkus can send him a copy. They have his address on their books and in the mean time I will send them an email. Good luck with the book and I hope we can help.

  12. I found out by chance that The Painter’s Apprentice has been published in large format paperback, as I’d ordered it in hardback last March. So now I’ve cancelled the hardback order and have ordered the paperback! So looking forward to reading this, as The Apothecary’s Daughter was one of my favourite reads of last year.

  13. I am on my 5th or 6th listening of the audio addition of The Apocathary’s Daughter. Love, love, love this book! Sadly, I cannot locate The Painter’s Apprentice in downloadable audio format. Will it be available on iTunes anytime soon, and read by the same wonderful narrator?
    Thank you so much for writing and sharing!

  14. Hello Kendra

    I’m really pleased you have enjoyed The Apothecary’s Daughter so much that you’ve listened to it so many times. There is an audio version of The Painter’s Apprentice, also beautifully read by Anne Dover and I’ve just been listening to the CD version made for libraries. I’m not sure when the downloadable version will be available – if I can find out I’ll let you know.

  15. I have just finished reading the Painter’s Apprentice, and will go and get both books for my Mum, because I know she will love them. Will there be another??? Please?

    • Hi there! I delivered the next book to the publisher last week. It’s called The Spice Merchant’s Wife and will be published in large format paperback in August and then in the normal sized paperback next February 2014. Now I’m thinking about what will come after that.

      I hope your mother likes the books! Best wishes, Charlotte.

  16. Wow so pleased to see your reply to the last comment. I read the Apothecary’s Daughter last year and it was all due to the name. Apothecary’s fascinate me, it is also a neat word in general. I saw it on the shelf in the book shop and had to have it, and LOVED it. The wait for the the Painter Apprentice seemed to take for ever and I have really enjoyed reading it as well. I am SO pleased the next is not to far away.
    Thank you for such wonderful stories. You take me away to another world.

    • Thank you for your kind comments. And did you see the cover for The Milliner’s Daughter? This (long) short story will be downloadable as an ebook in early October.

  17. I’m not sure what drew me to pick up three of your books in the library but I have just finished ‘The Apothecary’s Daughter’ and ‘The Painter’s Apprentice’ in 48 hours! I could not put them down. I adore historical fiction and am thrilled to have discovered Charlotte Betts.

    • Hi Karenne
      I’m pleased my novels were a ‘lucky find’! You may also enjoy The Spice Merchant’s Wife and the further adventures of Arabella in a short story available for Kindle. This is called The Milliner’s Daughter and gives a different view of Arabella. I’m working hard on the next book, set at the time of the French Revolution, and I hope to finish the first draft tomorrow!


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