I was reminded today of just how far we have come with our writing and all that is involved with it and wanted to share our pride in our accomplishments.
Still a long way to go, but loving what you do is a lovely way to do it!
(we didn’t do it all by ourselves, so we thank everyone who helped us along the way!)
You read about families where everyone is happy and life is wonderful.
That wasn’t my family.
My mother coped patiently with a drunken, obsessive gambler of a husband and a daughter with an insatiable sexual appetite. I loved my father, but he kept us one step away from the poor house. Loving my sister was harder, basically because she hated me and constantly brought trouble to our door.
Me? I couldn’t wait to grow up and live my own life.
Then everything changed. Dad won a guest house in a card game, and suddenly we were off to a new life in Cornwall. A beautiful place, steeped in legend and mystery.
Would trouble leave us alone now, or was it merely biding its time?
Excerpt from Let it Go
We hadn’t seen dad for nearly a week, and that was a long time, even for him.
Mum was going spare, ranting on about what she’d do to him when he finally came home. Poor dad, it could mean another black eye or a nose which wouldn’t stop bleeding for hours after mum lands one of her punches. This is pretty normal behaviour for my parents and had been going on for years. Considering my mother’s temper, you would think he would stop rolling home drunk and penniless, but he never did.
It was late Friday night when he finally came home. We knew it was him, even though it sounded as if something had been thrown at the front door. We listened to him fumbling with the key for ages; mum with arms folded, waiting for him to fall through it. How she controlled her temper and didn’t rush at the door and tear it from its hinges, I will never know. I think I would have done; it would have been quicker.
I heard the lock turn and dad swung in like a gust of wind, holding on to the key that was stuck in the lock. His dark, shaggy hair hadn’t seen a comb in days and his clothes appeared to have been slept in. He stood there swaying, grinning at mum like an idiot.
She slapped his hand from the key, sending him flying across the hall, skidding on the mat that never seemed to want to stay in one place. I had a ringside seat at the top of the stairs and watched as she calmly removed the key and slammed the door.
Sally, my older sister by two years, came out of her room to see what was happening. At seventeen, she thought she’d been around the block and knew everything. As for the block, she’d been around it all right. There was no good way to describe my sister, other than to call her a tart. Right then, she looked the part too, with her smeared makeup and messy hair. Hanging over the bannister in her underwear, she told mum to kick his no good arse back out the door. Mum looked up at us with rage in her eyes and we both fled, creeping back when we felt it safe, even sliding down a few stairs to hear better.
They were in the kitchen now and something wasn’t right. Mum’s voice sounded cold, as though talking through ice-cubes. We heard her say she was leaving him, after twenty years of going nowhere she’d had enough. Then silence. Why weren’t they speaking, shouting or smashing things like they normally did?
I sat there wishing I could see through walls. I wanted to go in and say something, remind her that dad wasn’t a bad man. Stupid and unlucky maybe, but it wasn’t his fault all his schemes and dreams came to nothing.
The silence frightened me. Mum couldn’t possibly leave him. She loved him, had stood by his crazy ideas all this time. Turning to Sally, I whispered, ‘We’ve got to do something. Put some clothes on, hurry, before Dad passes out and mum goes to sleep on the thoughts in her head.’
Sally stopped me from standing up, pulling me backwards, knocking the lower part of my back against the stairs. ‘We can’t, Mary. He’ll say something stupid in a minute, then she’ll go for him. You know what happened last time. You got mum’s elbow in your face, couldn’t see for a week.’
I looked at her, seeing her differently for a moment. Unable to stop the words from coming out of my mouth, I said, ‘I didn’t know you cared.’
‘Of course I care, you stupid cow. You’re my kid sister.’
Was that a hurt look I saw, or another of her acting games? I tried again to stand. Feeling her hand on my shoulder, I moved faster, not wanting to be pulled down again. My foot slipped forward on the edge of the carpet and gravity did the rest, pulling me headlong down the rest of the steps. I heard Sally yell, then a chair scrape against the kitchen floor. My head hurt. I tried to move, and then someone turned out the lights.
I woke up on our living room sofa with dad holding my hand. Mum was putting a cold flannel on my head. Trying to move shot a pain through the top of my head, much as I imagined dad must feel when mum slaps him with whatever comes to hand.
‘Lie still, Mary.’ Dad said. ‘Everything’s all right. Hard heads run in the family.’
From somewhere in the room I heard Sally scoff. I struggled to sit up and could see her leaning against the doorframe, picking at her nails.
Looking dad square in the face, I said, ‘It’s not all right. Didn’t you hear mum say she’s leaving you? Couldn’t you hear the difference in her voice?’
Dad put the palm of his hand on my cheek and smiled. The smile that made you believe in angels, and held mum to him all these years.
‘Not to worry, Mary. I have something here that will put the warmth back in her voice.’ Taking some legal papers and a bunch of keys from his pocket, he gave them to mum and said, ‘Read it, Margaret.’
Waiting for mum to say something, to let us in on what could only be another of dad’s get-rich-schemes, seemed like waiting for hell to freeze over.
She read them once, and knowing dad of old, read them again. ‘Cornwall,’ she said finally. ‘A broken down guesthouse.’ She waved the paper at dad. ‘How did you get this with no money?’
‘Playing cards.’ Dad said. ‘I won it from old Tom. That’s where I’ve been, Cornwall, to look at the place. Margaret, it’s beautiful. Overlooks the ocean – a lick of paint and it’ll be good as new.’
‘So, Michael Flanagan. How long has this place been closed, did you think to ask?’
‘A year or so.’
‘Right. So with eyes full of beer, you managed to figure out it’s a lick of paint we’ll be needing, nothing more?’ The temper still showed on her face and her words had thorns. It was no accident she had been born with red hair.
‘Don’t start, Margaret. Can’t you see that luck has finally found us? It’s what you’ve always wanted, to run our own place. And the money we get from this house will get us started. The girls can help out, even get paid for the work they do around the place.’
‘I don’t see myself as a chambermaid.’ Sally moaned, folding her arms across her chest like mum. She straightened her back, trying to look tough.
Dad spun on her. ‘Better than lying on your back with God knows who, whenever the mood takes you!’
Sally stormed off and I heard the bedroom door slam shut as dad went on about her going the same way as his sister, Aunt Vivian, known hereabouts as the local bike.
Mum said he should hold his tongue.
‘Can’t do it, woman. I won’t see one of my own daughters end up on the same road. I’ll be putting the house on the market first thing in the morning. We’ve talked about nothing else for the past ten years. Now, it’s been handed to us on a plate.’
From the look on mum’s face, I could tell she was beginning to think it might be a good idea. After all, we had nothing to lose. It had plenty of rooms and hadn’t cost dad a penny, and this house would give them the money to do it up. But what on earth did they know about running a guest house? I decided that now wasn’t a good time to ask…
Two Wonderful Reviews!
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended for fans of family dramas and coming-of-age stories
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Fifteen-year-old Mary’s life is turned upside down when her father wins a large house in Cornwall in a card game, and her parents decide to up sticks from South West London, move down to Cornwall, and run a bed & breakfast boarding house. Mary does not have a good relationship with her sister Sally but is particularly close to her elderly and infirm grandmother (Nan). Nan decides to make the biggest change of all and move with the family to live in a caravan at the end of the garden.
Mary finds an old diary written by a girl her own age who used to live in the house. She reads of a particular event in the diary that happened years before, which she cannot get out of her mind. Mary has a need to follow up the event and finds a new friend, Mark, who has knowledge of the local area and all its mysteries to help her in her quest.
The author has an obvious love of Cornwall, and this is evident throughout the book. I enjoyed reading about the shifting family dynamics, Mary’s relationship with her sister, and the new life experiences that she had to learn to cope with. I can recommend this four star read for fans of women’s fiction, family dramas, and coming-of-age stories. There are a few grammatical errors, but they did not distract me from the story. Well done!
5 stars A fantastic look at family relationships
Format: Kindle Edition
A fantastic look at family dynamics through the eyes of Mary, a fifteen-year-old who is older and wiser than her years. When her father wins a guest house in a card game, Mary’s has to adjust to a new life in Cornwall. In addition to her parents and sister, Mary also has her beloved grandmother, Nan, to aid in that adjustment.
This book is filled with wonderful characters and effortless writing. I adored the relationship between Mary and Nan. As narrator, Mary does an excellent job in allowing us to see the world through her eyes. From the vivid place descriptions to the strengths and weakness in the people around her, including her own family, the reader sees scars, faults and triumphs.
The plot thread with Mary’s sister Sally, and how the family rallies around her when she runs afoul of three local women is especially strong. I also liked the thread with Spike, an unexpected “lodger” and how his storyline turned out. The author has a great style and hooked me immediately. I plan to seek out more of her books. Consider me a fan!
These reviews really thrilled us and made our writing life so much more rewarding. Everyone should review the books they read. It is easy to do and brings so much joy to writers everywhere!