DUE FOR PUBLICATION 1st MAY
ARC’s available now
Lucy Shaw, sure by name but not by nature, wants to make her marriage work. In her head, that is. Her heart has other ideas as she embarks on a bittersweet journey to try and find true happiness.
To the outside world, Lucy’s life looks close to perfect; a doting husband, a model son, a lovely home, but it’s all an act and the strain is starting to show as Lucy searches for something that will make her life bearable.
This is a warm, witty and searingly honest novel of life love and friendship.
Home again and Alfie is laid out on the cool tiles of the utility room, a slobbery puddle forming under his mouth from the big slurps of water just taken. He is content. It’s now ten thirty and I know that Paul will be wanting a coffee. I make two mugs and take one upstairs. Paul is on a video call, so I tiptoe in and put the mug on the coaster on his desk, careful not to accidently appear in the meeting. I’ve done this before. In my nightie. I can never go to one of Paul’s office parties again. He gives me a thumbs up to say thank you and I creep back out, closing the door behind me. Well, I might want to do something noisy, like hoover. Or scream.
I do neither of those things. Instead, I retrieve my mug of coffee from the kitchen and head to the lounge. With Paul tied up on the phone, it’s safe to watch a little bit of daytime television, something I no longer have the luxury of doing very often now that Paul works from home. The guilt is simply too much. I must be busy doing housewifely things earning my place in the household hierarchy. Today I think sod it. As an afterthought, I pop back to the kitchen and grab a packet of chocolate digestives which I’d hidden at the back of the larder cupboard. I switch on This Morning, hoping it’s Phillip and Holly presenting today. I don’t like their stand-ins nearly as much.
No effort is required of me. I lose myself in the programme, absent-mindedly munching my way through half a packet of biscuits. Items on cooking the perfect roast potato, and clothes to flatter every body shape. Round in my case after all the biccies. Then they start talking about something that catches my attention. Something that suddenly engages me. Something that really shouldn’t. Philip is addressing a woman we only see from the back. And she’s obviously wearing a wig. He’s asking her about a website. It’s a dating site. With a difference. It’s apparently a site called Secret Affair, and it’s for married people. I had no idea such a thing existed and it has piqued my curiosity. Turning the tele up a fraction, I twist the top on the biscuit packet and put it on the table with my now empty mug.
I’m a little bit gobsmacked as I listen to the be-wigged woman’s tales of her illicit encounters with several married men, one of whom she had an affair with for over a year. She sounds shameless as she describes rendezvous in hotels, with champagne-fuelled sex and the occasional bit of mild S&M. Personally I’d prefer tea and M&M’s, I think idly. Philip is trying his best not to show his disapproval. Holly is trying not to giggle. The woman is talking matter-of-factly about the time she almost got caught by her husband as she left a hotel after one such steamy session. Philip is asking her is she feels guilty. She says she doesn’t. She says it saved her marriage. She says it made her feel alive again; a beautiful, desirable woman. It made her feel like her again.
That thought imprints itself on my subconscious, but any further enlightenment is brought to a halt by the sound of Paul’s office door opening and his familiar cough. That smoker’s cough I’ve started to hate. It makes me clench my jaw and think bad things. He’s obviously coming down for a cigarette break. Quickly turning off the TV, I scurry into the kitchen, putting my mug in the washing-up bowl and the biscuits back in the cupboard. I feel like a naughty child, not wanting to be caught with my hand in the cookie jar. It’s crazy. I resent it. But would Paul actually even care? I wonder. Is all this guilt of my own making? But now isn’t the time for such philosophical musings. I must look busy. I must justify my existence.
But, as I pull a duster and can of polish from the cupboard under the sink, my mind returns to those words: “it made her feel like her again”. I try to banish them but, as I dust and hoover, and think about what to do for dinner they lurk and taunt and vex. I want to feel like me again. I want my identity back. I want this feeling of dissatisfaction to go away.
About the Author
Jo was born in 1967 in Dover where her father owned the local newspaper. Her great great grandfather, John Bavington Jones, wrote books about the town, so writing is in Jo’s genes. Jo attended Dover Girls’ Grammar School and has an honours degree in English and American Literature from the University of Kent at Canterbury. She has always wanted to be a writer and to make people laugh. While pursuing that aim Jo has also worked as a customs officer, quality assurance officer and membership and events manager for a Texan fitness celebrity. Having experienced the highs and lows of marriage, motherhood and divorce, Jo has a wealth of life experience which she brings to her writing with realism and humour.
Praise for Jo’s debut novel, Lucy Shaw’s Not Sure
“Extremely witty and includes scenarios, thoughts and feelings we can all relate to”
“Excellent debut novel”
“A good read with a very relatable storyline” “A fun, lighthearted holiday read with plenty of Lol moments.”