But it is a love story for grown ups....
Wife and mother, Nell, fears change, but it is forced upon her by her manipulative husband, Trevor. Finding herself in a new world of flirtation and casual infidelity, her principles are undermined and she’s tempted. Should she emulate the behaviour of her new friends or stick with the safe and familiar?
But everything Nell has accepted at face value has a dark side. Everyone - even her nearest and dearest - has been lying. She’s even deceived herself. The presentiment of disaster, first felt as a tremor at the start of the story, rumbles into a full blown earthquake. When the dust settles, nothing is as it previously seemed.
And when an unlikely love blossoms from the wreckage of her life, she believes it is doomed.
The future, for the woman who feared change, is irrevocably altered. But has she been broken, or has she transformed herself? “
An extract from FLY OR FALL - Chapter Two
The family have not been living in their new house for many months and renovations have recently started. Nell is aware someone new has joined the team of workmen today, but meets him for the first time when he knocks on her door to use the loo. Her first sight of him makes an impression, but she ignores and discounts her response. Instead of returning outside once he’s finished in the bathroom, he follows her into the kitchen. Feeling mildly irritated, Nell feels obliged to offer him a cup of coffee......
........The man sat, stretching out his cement crusted legs and crossing his feet. His large, steel capped boots were almost white.
‘Prefer tea,’ he said, ‘and I don’t suppose there’s a chance of something to eat?’
‘Yeah. You put it in your mouth and chomp up and down a bit. Fuel for the inner man.’ At my silence he elaborated. ‘Lump of cheese? Bread and jam? Marmite? Honey? Anything? I’m easily pleased.’
None of the other workmen had expected to be fed. And beyond the occasional biscuit, I’d not considered offering food. I was surprised, and by now thoroughly put out by the man’s continuing presumption. I was relieved I could dislike him. Had he turned out to be a thoroughly amiable character, his continued presence around my house could have proved seriously distracting.
‘The others –’
|A remark in this conversation
prefigures a ladder's importance in the plot
‘No need to worry about Spike and Jazz. Gone off down the boozer.’ He glanced at his watch. ‘Don’t drink. Makes me dopey. Don’t want to fall off the ladder.’
‘I wasn’t worried. I was about to say, they provide their own food.’
‘They’ve got mums. I’ve no one to look after me. Rather spend the extra ten minutes in bed than making a picnic.’ He turned the full strength of his smile on me.
‘I’ve the washing to peg out,’ I said, with a nod to the basket.
‘Doesn’t matter. I can see you’re busy.’ He made as if to get up, withdrawing his long legs.
Concerned now, and half ashamed of my churlishness, I looked at the clock. I didn’t want it on my conscience if my hypoglycaemic builder had an accident.
‘I suppose another ten minutes isn’t going to make a difference to the washing. And I need to get myself something.’ My big mouth. Of course he would take this as an invitation to eat with me. Already he was relaxing back into the chair, hands behind his head, as I pushed aside the library book I was reading and put the bread board and butter on the table. It was a bad idea to get too friendly with the men. I knew it, Trevor had reiterated it. If you get too chummy they’ll take advantage. Yet here I was, in my own kitchen, about to share my lunch with a stranger who was patently all too willing to take liberties. I opened the fridge and took out the cheese box, then dumped some plates and knives onto the table. It would have been different if I’d wanted the company, but I preferred my own. I badly wanted to be left in peace to listen to the radio. Just then, the theme tune to The Archers came on. While washing up the previous evening I’d heard the original broadcast – hard to justify a desperate desire to hear the repeat. I turned it off and sat down opposite him.
‘That looks like a bit of a tome. The Inheritance of Loss …’ As he reached for the hardback by Kiran Desai, I noticed his large hands. Though clean now, they were ruddy, and roughened by heavy work, the knuckles pitted, scuffed, and scabbed by old and recent injuries. Instead of turning the book over to read the blurb, he glanced up at me with raised eyebrows. I wondered if he wanted a précis of the plot or a justification of why I was reading it.
‘It’s not particularly long.’
‘Looks serious. Not much of a reader, me. Apart from the Sun, of course.’
Of course. I’d no need to make clichéd assumptions about the man; he’d done it for me. Upstairs he had evidently washed his face as well as his hands; a few strands of hair still clung to a damp forehead. I wondered what it was that had initially unnerved me at first sight. His was a longish face and although I was mistaken about the depth of tan, his complexion possessed the healthy bloom of a life spent outdoors, a bloom which heightened to a tawny flush over high cheekbones. Without the disconcerting patina of rust flakes I noticed natural freckles scattered across the blunt bridge of his long nose. I’d never admired men with freckles. His eyes were not a piercing periwinkle, nor a glittering emerald, nor a smouldering, sensual brown – merely hazel. There was nothing to write home about in the hair department either. A lighter brown than my own, it was cut in such jagged layers it could conceivably have been styled with garden shears, and the faint russet burnish might only indicate it was still dusted with rust. Even the wide, perfect smile was not that perfect; one of his incisors was crooked, and a scar hooked upwards from the right corner of his over-generous mouth. Analysis proved how misled I’d been at first sight. Nice enough, but far from an Adonis. He put down the book and reached for a roughly hacked doorstep of bread, glancing up at me with an enquiring lift of the eyebrow.
‘I’ve not noticed you around before?’
I felt trapped, wanting this lunchtime interlude to be over, but while he was slathering his bread with spread and helping himself to a sizeable wedge of cheese, politeness kept me sitting across the table as an unwilling participant in the conversation.
‘It may need some updating but this is a good sound property,’ he reassured me, following my explanation of how rapidly we’d done the deal and moved in. ‘And for the size, you got it at a knock-down price.’
‘But we’re on the wrong side of town. Anyone who is anyone lives in Old Town.’
He frowned. ‘Why d’you say that?’
‘Something I’ve heard. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t care less whether we’re on this side of the main road or the other; I know we have the best of both worlds here, with the downs just up the road, and the station and town centre only a fifteen minute walk away.’
‘But you’re not happy?’
‘What do you mean?’
He shrugged. ‘You seem a bit dead-pan, bit rehearsed.’
‘I haven’t found my feet yet,’ I said quickly. He continued to look at me as if waiting for more. I looked down at my hands then up and out of the window. ‘I would’ve had reservations about anywhere I moved to. I … I’m not brave.’
‘Brave?’ He lifted his eyebrows.
‘To start your life again you need bravery. I’m a bit of a wimp. In the past I had a vision of what lay ahead of me. Since we’ve come here it’s as if someone has wiped the board clean.’ Why on earth had I said that to this Sun reading stranger? ..........
On our apartment balcony, over looking the
little harbour town of Loggos in Paxos, Greece.
I started to write in childhood, a hobby only abandoned when real life supplanted the fiction. I didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge but, after just enough exam passes to squeak in, I attended Croydon Art College. I didn’t work on any of the broadsheets, in publishing or television. Instead I was a shop assistant, a beauty consultant and a barmaid before landing my dream job as an illustrator in advertising. It was only when I was at home with my son that I began writing seriously. My first two novels were quickly published, but when the publisher ceased to trade, I went independent.
Over the years, I've been a school governor, a contributor to local newspapers, and a driving force behind the community shop in my Gloucestershire village. Still a keen artist, I design Christmas cards and have begun book illustration.
I'm particularly delighted to have recently gained a new mainstream publisher. TORN was the first book to be published in a three book deal with Accent Press, FLY OR FALL is the second.