My new novel, How to Keep a Secret, is now available for Kindle and in paperback. Here’s a sneak preview.
Three women. Three Secrets.
When Julia Rochester finds a bag of love letters to her husband she knows her marriage is over. But there’s worse to come and she can’t tell anyone, least of all her best friend, Mimi, who has some secrets of her own.
A beguiling newcomer, Cassandra, insinuates herself into Julia’s household, bringing with her reminders of a past Julia would prefer to forget. As old deceptions and betrayals resurface family secrets are exposed and the foundations of Julia’s life begin to crumble.
Struggling to come to terms with the revelations, Julia turns to an old friend, but even a rekindled love affair comes with baggage…
A second chance at happiness beckons and Julia is looking forward to a gilded future.
But Mimi has other ideas.
Now read on:
The past came crashing back on a cool, wet summer’s day and Julia Rochester was completely unprepared.
On her knees in the spare room, the one that had been David’s before he’d gone off to university twelve years ago and had since become the repository of anything and everything that didn’t have a proper home, she pulled the ancient Hoover’s flexible hose from under the bed and extracted the plastic carrier bag that had been sucked into its foot.
Spring-cleaning was a real chore but very occasionally the effort was rewarded. She pushed her hair out of her eyes with the back of her hand and peered inside the bag, expecting to find remnants of lace from last summer’s experiment with tatting, a half-embroidered table cloth or a segment of knitted sleeve from a forgotten cardigan.
The bag was full of letters. She tipped them out and studied the envelopes. The address was the same on all of them: Martin Rochester, Rochester & Driscoll, Varsity Chambers, Coleridge Terrace, written in an unmistakably feminine hand, in dark blue ink that hadn’t begun to fade. The paper was cream coloured and good quality. She squinted at the postmarks. All identical, though largely indistinct, as if each letter had been consigned to the postal service at the same office and smeared by the same defective franking machine.
Julia couldn’t imagine why they were hidden in this room, why they were in the house at all. Who even wrote letters, these days? Her husband was a chartered surveyor and he received a lot of mail at his office, but most of it was electronic, not handwritten like this, on fine paper.
She examined the dusty strips of parcel tape that had held the package in place on the back of the chest of drawers. Martin had obviously meant it to stay hidden, but she’d disturbed it with her preparations. David was arriving later today. He and Lauren were breaking up, he’d announced on the phone the previous week, and could he come and stay for a while? She’d agreed with the leaden certainty that her son would never leave again.
She sat back on her heels, wiping grimy hands on her jeans, careful not to leave smudges on the still-pristine envelopes. What was the best thing to do? Should she bundle them back into the plastic bag, unread, and put them back in their hiding place, forgetting about their existence? Or should she wait until Martin got home and confront him? Maybe she should throw them out, put them on the bonfire. Or, the most tempting of all: should she read them? OK, they weren’t addressed to her, but still; they’d obviously been opened, and there was a chance they were completely innocent.
What would Mimi do? Her best friend was very much of the get it-out-in-the-open persuasion and Julia had little doubt that she’d have read all the letters by now and dispensed her forthright opinion on the writer and the recipient, whether it was asked for or not.
Hope you enjoyed this excerpt. Maggie