‘Amanda sat for a moment, looking up at her beautiful home. If she only looked up, past the granite steps, the glossy black handrails, she could convince herself that everything was perfect.’
Today is my stop on tour with Irish Writer Faith Hogan and her latest novel The Girl I Used to Know. Just published with Aria Fiction, it tells the story of unlikely friendships and second chances.
I have an extract for you all today so I hope you enjoy!!
About the book
A beautiful, emotive and spell-binding story of two women who find friendship and second chances when they least expect it. Perfect for the fans of Patricia Scanlan.
Amanda King and Tess Cuffe are strangers who share the same Georgian house, but their lives couldn’t be more different.
Amanda seems to have it all, absolute perfection. She projects all the accoutrements of a lady who lunches. Sadly, the reality is a soulless home, an unfaithful husband and a very lonely heart.
By comparison, in the basement flat, unwanted tenant Tess has spent a lifetime hiding and shutting her heart to love.
It takes a bossy doctor, a handsome gardener, a pushy teenager and an abandoned cat to show these two women that sometimes letting go is the first step to moving forward and new friendships can come from the most unlikely situations.
December 29 – Monday
Coffee with the girls just wore Amanda King out these days. She pulled up onto the Italian pebble drive of her home, exhausted, which of course was ridiculous – it was just coffee after all. First-world problems, that’s what Richard called it, and he must be right.
Richard was always right, he was a banker, her successful husband of twenty-two years; the love of her life. Richard fell in love with her when she was a flighty art student with notions probably far beyond her talent. She could thank him for saving her from the delusions of herself. He fell in love with her in spite of her permanently charcoaled fingernails. Sometimes it seemed like a lifetime ago, but it was twenty-two years in a few weeks’ time. Life had been generous to them, giving them a perfect family – Casper and Robyn – well, they were teenagers now, in that awkward phase of no man’s land between rebellion, tears and needing her. She could thank Richard too for their lovely home, a three-storey over basement Georgian townhouse; after all, he had paid for it. They had been captivated by it together, perhaps for different reasons. Richard liked the address – you don’t get more exclusive in Dublin than an intact Georgian square, with a private shared park in the centre, on the right side of town. Amanda adored everything about it, from the intricate cornicing and ceiling roses, to the buttery windowpanes that rattled in their frames. She loved the light that shone through every inch of the house at the precise moment when you needed it. Their breakfast bar faced east, their dining room benefited from the western evening sun. She threw herself headlong into a sympathetic restoration project that managed to extend beyond the house to the communal square and more. Amanda spent almost a year researching the history of the square, from the first stone laid on a grey Dublin day in 1798 to each mistress of the house, before she arrived to steer it into its third century.
She sighed now, as much from exhaustion as the notion of all those women who went before. They suffered on through famine, land wars, world wars and countless other ups and downs; she had not yet lost the grace to feel a little prickly when she complained about her trifling niggles.
What was she doing? She was complaining about going for coffee in one of Dublin’s smartest hotels, with some of the most glamourous women in the city? She had fallen into this charmed, if somewhat vacuous life. Coffee morning was a ritual at this stage, two hours spent dissecting the lives of everyone outside their circle – people of interest, who hadn’t quite managed to make it in yet. They sat at the same table each week, Amanda and the other wives, feasting on the morsels of gossip gleaned from husbands who only cared in an offhand way.
Amanda opened the button of her pants and groaned her disappointment. Once again, she had tucked into the plate of sweet biscuits, croissants and scones. Single-handedly, she was a one-woman scoffing machine; she’d cleared the lot. She never remembered eating them, but, as usual, she had found herself reaching for something to nibble and before she knew it, the tiered plate was empty. Ah, well, no point crying over spilled milk or eaten pastries, she thought regretfully.
Amanda sat for a moment, looking up at her beautiful home. If she only looked up, past the granite steps, the glossy black handrails, she could convince herself that everything was perfect. It was her dream home, her lovely Georgian house, with its original fanlight and reconstructed glossy front door, brasses glinting in the afternoon unseasonable sunshine. It still made her so proud that she had pulled this place back from the brink. Well, she had refurbished it thanks to Richard’s money and an army of specialist builders and advisors. Unfortunately, it took just a glimpse to the lower left to catch sight of the only blight on the vista of their lovely mansion. A sturdy little porch jutted out of what they called the basement, although the windows and door appeared to be at ground level. Tess Cuffe, their sitting tenant, had hung a line of washing out again.
Amanda tried to block it out of view, but it was hard to ignore an orange clothes line clipped with neat green pegs, a sail of freshly washed, if very worn linen flapping on the icy afternoon breeze. Indeed, you had to wonder, when you looked at those almost threadbare sheets, if they might not be considered vintage at this point. On the end of the line, a couple of blouses fluttered mournfully, their flowers long faded by hot washes and too much cheap detergent. My God, but they probably didn’t even sell blouses like those anymore. They were truly ancient, outmoded – collectibles that no one would ever want to collect. Amanda wondered who wore them in this day and age. The answer of course was Tess Cuffe – she was the only person Amanda had ever known to wear clothes that might have fallen off a shelf in Woolworths forty years before. Presumably, they were her work clothes, although, for the life of her Amanda couldn’t fathom who would want to employ a woman like Tess Cuffe.
To continue reading……
Amazon UK ~ http://amzn.eu/77a87LT
Bio Faith Hogan
Faith Hogan was born in Ireland. She gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway. She has worked as a fashion model, an event’s organiser and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.
She was a winner in the 2014 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair – an international competition for emerging writers.
Faith Hogan Contact:
Twitter (her favourite) @GerHogan
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/faithhoganauthor/
Web Page. http://faithhogan.com/