‘Without your past, who are you?’
The Former Chief Executive is the third novel from writer Kate Vane. Described by the author as a literary novel, I was intrigued to see what it was about.
These days we are oft times measured by what we do as opposed to who we really are. In this novel Kate Vane asks that question…without our career, our name, who are we really?
A short novel, at only 150 pages, The Former Chief Executive was published on the 8th June 2017.
Please read on for my review….
Without your past, who are you?
Deborah was a respected hospital manager until a tragedy destroyed her reputation. She has lost her career, her husband and even her name.
Luca wants to stay in the moment. For the first time in his life he has hope and a home. But a fresh start is hard on a zero-hours contract, harder if old voices fill your mind.
When a garden share scheme brings them together, Deborah is beguiled by Luca’s youth and grace. He makes her husband’s garden live again. He helps her when she’s at her lowest. But can she trust him? And when the time comes to confront her past, can she find the strength?
This sharply drawn short novel explores the distance between the generations – between health and wealth, owners and workers, guilt and blame.
Deborah is woman now left with nothing….
‘Deborah Stevens, former chief executive of the Royal Midlands NHS Trust‘, a woman who always garnered the respect of her peers, now finds herself lost, alone and frightened. Her husband Peter and herself had planned for a retirement where life would be simpler. Peter, an avid gardener would spend time with his plants and Deborah would relax, knowing they had both achieved something in life.
Reputation meant everything to Deborah ‘When she was working she always made a point of telling people to call her Deborah straight away. What you chose to be called was important. Especially when you were a woman.’
But circumstances changed dramatically for Deborah. An incident at the workplace meant her reputation was in ruins. Following this, her husband Peter was tragically diagnosed with cancer and passed away. Deborah is left in an empty home with only her bitterness to keep her company. What is she now? Who is she now?
‘In the hospital my web ran through every ward and department. Rumours, rivalries, conspiricies, I knew. She’d had allies. But now she was adrift in her own home.’
A chance encounter with a young man changes Deborah’s life in ways she had not imagined.
Luca is a young man who rose from the ashes of a broken home ‘You live in a world where you think you are nothing, where nothing you do matters.’ He is now a member of a local garden share scheme where he finds he can express himself through his love of planting and the soil.
Deborah is unable to tend to her garden as it was her husband’s dream and not hers, so she makes a suitable arrangement with Luca whereby he looks after her garden and in return he can use what he wishes from the crops grown.
But both Luca and Deborah are from very different backgrounds and soon the lines becomes blurred as each is exposed to the other’s world. Contrasting generations with diverse stories come together as the pages unfold.
Luca and Deborah are both looking for a fresh start but can you ever escape the past?
In this novel, Kate Vane explores many themes making The Former Chief Executive quite a thought-provoking read. There are many layers to this story for such a short book, dealing with complex issues of grief, reputation, what it means to belong. My only issue with the book was the ending which I found to be quite sudden. I turned the page expecting more but I’m guessing the author wished for the reader to make their own minds up about what happened next.
Can I just say that the cover of this book is worth a mention. I did follow up with Kate Vane as to it’s origins and it is by the artist IIaria Roselli Del Turco. Stunning paintings.
(Website ~ http://www.ilardt.com/portraits.html )
Purchase Link ~ The Former Chief Executive
Kate joined me a few weeks back with a guest post entitled ‘Why I wrote a Short Novel’, which you can read HERE
Meet Kate Vane:
‘I’m an independent author living in Devon. I have published three novels, The Former Chief Executive, Not the End and Recognition.
I have written for BBC drama Doctors and have had short stories and articles published in various publications and anthologies, including Mslexia and Scotland on Sunday.’
Website ~ https://katevane.wordpress.com/
Twitter ~ @k8vane