Today as a part of the blog blitz, I am sharing an extract from A Prescription for Madness by Linda Fawke. This one looks intriguing with many things to leave you thinking and I hope to one day read it!
When successful business-owner Kate Shaw realises she is pregnant, after a fling with a previous lover, she has life-changing decisions to make. She needs to be in control of her life. Pregnancy in her fifties was never part of the plan. It becomes her secret.
The risks of having a baby at her age are clear but she struggles with the idea of an abortion. No-one understands her increasingly erratic behaviour as the preoccupation takes over her life.
Her marriage is precarious; the relationship with her former lover uncertain.
Is this the way to madness?
This is a gripping story about dark choices, gnawing discontent and the uncertainties of love.
Info on the Extract from Chapter Three:
Kate, having discovered she is unexpectedly pregnant at the age of 51, wants someone to confide in and seeks help from her mother. Their relationship has never been close but Kate needs someone to talk to. Maybe not the best idea…
‘You’re a bit quiet today, Kate. Are you feeling alright?’
‘I’m not totally myself. In fact, there was something I wanted to talk to you about.’
Her mother sat upright as if someone had a gun to her back. She opened her eyes wide and put her hands to her cheeks.
‘You haven’t got some dreadful disease, have you? It’s not… you know … is it? Is it treatable? If it’s a matter of money, I’ll try to help. Don’t have much but you can have what there is. Private treatment is quicker. You shouldn’t wait around for some appointment months away. But you know all about these things. Why didn’t you tell me sooner? Or have you only just found out? Oh, my poor darling!’
The questions came ever faster and she stopped when she ran out of breath. She looked at Kate in horror. A piece of pickle dropped out of the sandwich she was holding and landed on her lap.
‘Calm down, Mum. I’m not ill. It isn’t cancer. Stop panicking. Just listen for a moment or two and I’ll tell you.’
‘Well, what a relief that is! But you’ve come specially to tell me something so it’s got to be important. Is there a problem with your businesses? Are you in debt? You’re not in trouble because of a wrongly dispensed prescription, are you? There was something on the radio recently about a case like that. Is there a lawsuit? My God, what will the neighbours say?’
Kate’s silence eventually got through to her mother.
‘Sorry, Kate. You asked me to listen. And all I’ve done is talk. I will listen now.’
Kate waited. She needed the silence; she needed her mother to feel the silence, too.
There was a long pause. Kate could see her mother struggling to take in the information, to find the right words.
‘I came to talk to you about it and try to get my head straight concerning what I’m going to do. It’s called seeking parental advice.’
‘I didn’t think you and Neil wanted children. Isn’t it a bit late now?’
‘Mum, I think you’ve missed the point. I didn’t intend to become pregnant.’
‘You, Kate? You’re always so organised, you don’t have accidents. I bet you were on the pill and it failed. Always thought it was risky. A bad idea.’
Kate recalled a conversation they had years ago, prompted by a television programme about the pill. Her mother didn’t believe it worked and was uncomfortable discussing it. Kate tried to explain its mode of action but her mother would not listen and was adamant in her views. Instead she turned to finding negative, unscientific comments in newspapers or magazines, cutting them out and posting them to Kate. It was the closest she got to advice on contraception.
‘No, Mum, I wasn’t on the pill. I stopped it a while ago. And it does work. If I’d been on it, I wouldn’t now have this problem.’
This was proving harder than she expected. Her mother was either naïve or being deliberately difficult. Surely it could not still be embarrassment?
‘So what does Neil think?’
‘He doesn’t know.’
‘Shouldn’t you tell him?’
‘Okay, Mum. Let me give you the whole story. It’ll surprise you, probably shock you, but hear me out.’
A stunned face looked back. ‘I need a cup of tea. Just let me put the kettle on and make a pot.’
Tea was the answer. Her mother would make it whatever she said. Kate was standing looking out at the garden, manicured and neat, all character having been removed with the weeds, when her mother returned. With a shaking hand, she poured out two cups, trying not to look her daughter in the eye. Twice she started to say something and stopped herself. Kate broke the silence.
‘Do you remember a boyfriend I had in the last year at university? A guy called Jonathan.’
Her mother’s face brightened. ‘Lovely lad. I do remember him. He had lunch with us on one of our visits and was a delight. Chatted away to your dad and me as if he’d known us for years. And he brought you here when I had to go into hospital to have that gallstone operation. Me and your dad, we hoped it would last. Fancied having him as a son-in-law. Would have been an asset to the family. Not that I have a problem with Neil, of course. But suddenly he wasn’t around anymore. You never did tell us why and I didn’t like to ask.’
‘Well, I met him again at the reunion a few months ago.’
Her mother looked blank.
‘You remember – I told you about it. We went back to the pharmacy department to celebrate thirty years since we all graduated. Without giving you unnecessary details, Jonathan and I ended up in bed and I think the baby is his.’
Her mother let out a cry worthy of a third-rate, sensational film.
‘Oh, Kate, how could you? What a sluttish thing to do! And with your upbringing! I can’t believe a daughter of mine would behave like that!’
‘Which century are you living in, Mum? It’s 2006, people hop in and out of bed with each other all the time. Anyway, there was a reason for it, a serious reason which I don’t intend to go into. It wasn’t just lust or trying to turn the clock back. And I don’t sleep around; I object to being called a slut.’
Her mother gave her an unbelieving stare and made a guttural grunt.
About the Author:
Linda Fawke is an arts person who studied science but always wanted to write. Now retired, she indulges this passion, writing fiction and non-fiction, even occasional poetry, preferably late at night. She has now written two novels, ‘A Taste of His Own Medicine’ and its sequel, ‘A Prescription for Madness’ using her background in pharmacy as the setting of both. These are easy books to read, suitable for book club discussions. ‘A Prescription for Madness‘ is more serious than the first book, dealing with such issues as pregnancy in later life and Down’s Syndrome.
She has been a winner of the Daily Telegraph ‘Just Back’ travel-writing competition and has published in various magazines including ‘Mslexia’, ‘Litro’ online, ‘Scribble’, ‘The Oldie’, ‘Berkshire Life’ and ‘Living France’. She was a finalist in the ‘Hysteria’ short story competition.
Linda blogs at www.linimeant.wordpress.com where her ‘Random Writings’ include a range of topics from travel to ‘Things that pop into my head’.
Today as a part of the blog blitz, I am sharing an extract from Mistletoe and the Mouse by Elsa Simonetti. If you love anything and everything abut Mickey Mouse, then this is the novel for you!
Can a magical Christmas melt a frozen heart?
Join Belle and James as they visit Mickey Mouse for a sparkling holiday season at Disneyland Paris.
Belle has been numb since her mother died, and she can’t face Christmas at home without her. Instead she books a surprise holiday to her “happy place” – the Magic Kingdom. But her boyfriend James has problems of his own. He doesn’t “do Disney” and what will his mother think of him missing their family Christmas to go to Disneyland with Belle?
A festive romance with a sprinkling of Pixie Dust.
Intro on the Extract:
Belle and James are on a Christmas holiday at Disneyland Paris, where Belle is struggling to overcome the grief she feels following the sudden and unexpected death of her mother earlier in the year. While she sits on the edge of a fountain, drinking mulled wine and waiting for James, Belle meets a young American, “a tall, slender woman of about her own age. The woman was wearing a knee-length deep red velvet dress over a pale golden skirt, with her long dark hair swept up with red roses. She was so elegant it took Belle’s breath away.” Belle falls naturally into conversation with her, and their meeting becomes something of a turning point for Belle, who is wondering if James’s obvious lack of enthusiasm for all things Disney might drive a wedge between them.
‘Shut up! Were you actually named after Beauty and the Beast?’ asked the woman.
‘Yes!’ Belle said. ‘Yes, my mum went into labour in the cinema watching the film. It was her favourite. She refused to leave until it was over; I very nearly popped out into the world in row H of the Cannon Cinema! That’s why she called me Belle.’
She had never told James that; she knew Beauty and the Beast didn’t mean anything to him. It would be pointless.
‘That is so awesome! Your mom must be a cool mother; I wish mine loved Disney as much as that.’
‘She is! She’s the best!’ Belle said eagerly, before remembering. ‘I mean, she was the best. She died earlier this year,’ she said, her face falling.
‘I’m so sorry for your loss,’ the woman said, looking concerned. ‘It’s so hard, isn’t it, first Christmas without your mom. I remember when my grandma died, I found Mom sitting and crying over the Thanksgiving Dinner, the first one she’d had to cook without grandma. Tears all over the turkey!’
‘Yes, that’s why we came here. I couldn’t face doing all the normal Christmas stuff without her. Mince pies and stockings and decorating the tree; it didn’t feel right.’
‘I can totally get that. Are you here with your Dad then?’
‘I haven’t seen my dad since I was four; he’s in America somewhere. No, I’m here with my boyfriend. James.’
‘The one who doesn’t do Disney?’
‘That’s the one.’
‘Then perhaps he is a keeper after all!’ the woman said. ‘Disney at Christmas is quite a thing for someone who doesn’t do Disney.’
‘I don’t know. He’s been so great this year, but it’s like he doesn’t understand me, sometimes. He doesn’t get it. I’m not sure if he’s The One – you know? He doesn’t seem to get Disney at all, and it’s always been such a big part of my life. Bringing him here, it makes me realise how different we are. He likes rugby, and I like Disney. There’s not much overlap there.’
It was the first time she had ever voiced her fears aloud. She had no-one she trusted enough to voice them to, without her mum. But somehow, this woman felt safe, like a friend.
‘Uh huh, I get that – but would he fight off vicious wolves for you, and carry you back safely to his castle? You don’t have to be exactly the same to be in love, you just have to be on the same side!’
She thought about James, and how he had lain awake with her all those nights, holding her in the darkness while she sobbed. She thought about how he had held her up at the funeral when she didn’t think she could stand on her own. She thought about how he had been prepared to abandon his own family at Christmas to come here with her, even though she could see quite clearly now he didn’t want to. He was on her side, firmly and steadfastly.
‘I think he would,’ she said softly. ‘Yes, I honestly think he would.’
‘Then, Belle, perhaps he is your Beast after all!’ she said, with a wave of her hand as if she was carrying a magic wand and sprinkling pixie dust. But her gesture turned into a wave as she saw her companion, dressed in ice-blue like Cinderella, coming out of the ladies’ toilets at the other side of the square. ‘Oh, there’s Gabrielle. Gotta go. Great to meet you, Belle.’
‘I didn’t get your name?’ Belle called after her. She stopped and turned back.
‘I’m Aliyah. But you can call me Fairy Godmother!’ she said with a laugh. ‘Happy holidays, Belle!’
‘Happy holidays, Fairy Godmother!’ she called after her.
Aliyah is only a minor character in the novel, but she’s an important one, as Belle otherwise has only James to talk to, and I realised that she needed someone to talk to ABOUT James at this point. Although Aliyah is very clearly a real person, the way in which she appears at this significant moment to help Belle and defines herself as Belle’s Fairy Godmother has a deliberate hint of magic about it. It’s one of my favourite scenes in the whole novel!
About the Author:
Elsa Simonetti was born in the same year as Walt Disney World, but many miles away in the north of England. Her earliest Disney memory is crying during Bambi at the Saturday morning cinema club! It wasn’t until her own children were small that her husband introduced her to the magic of Disneyland Paris, and since then she has become obsessed, proving Walt Disney’s own belief that “Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age and dreams are forever”. That was the seed of this story – that Disneyland is not just for children, but for anyone who is young at heart.
Elsa also writes romantic women’s fiction under the name of Liz Taylorson.[Top]
As a part of the blog blitz, today I share my review for Blue Skies by Alana Oxford. I awarded this one 5 stars!
Life isn’t always a walk in the park, but when Patrice takes her Pomeranians to the park after a rough day at the office, fate steps in. An unlikely hero comes to the rescue when one of her dogs gets loose. Short, pale, and kind of cute, Seth doesn’t have a lot of confidence with the ladies, but he hits it off with Patrice.
But some things might be too good to be true. While Patrice wonders if Seth could possibly be “the one”, fate steps in again with a horrible twist. Will it be a deal breaker or just a storm before bright blue skies?
Author: Alana Oxford
Published: August 29, 2020
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: October 6-8, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
This was a fun and quick read, and as you get closer to the end you find yourself reading faster to see what happens!
This was a welcome break from the thrillers I read, and this year in general. Blue Skies is a cute romcom novella, where at 100 pages you get a complete story. As I was getting closer to the end I was not sure it was going to have everything summed up but we did.
I adored both Patrice and Seth. You are rooting for those two to get together, but when you find out what the twist is… Wow…. It is definitely unexpected and makes you unsure of what is going to happen.
Blue Skies deals with a relatable situation that anyone with multiple dogs could find themselves in while walking. In fact, when I had the opportunity to join the blog tour, my sister had just had a similar run in that Patrice had at the park: She has two dogs and one got loose and ran off. My sister did not have a ‘unlikely hero’ come to her rescue, but a group of people helped her with her dogs. Everyone is fine, but because of this story I just had to sign up for the blog tour! I pictured my sister and her two dogs as Patrice and her Pomeranians as I read the novella. This definitely added to my enjoyment of the novella as I read it. Another coincidence is that I have an aunt named Patrice: How about that!?!?!?
This is my first read from Oxford and I hope to read more from her.
This fun novella is definitely recommended in this year of chaos that 2020 has become.
About the Author:
Alana Oxford is a Michigan author of romcoms, sweet romance, and humorous women’s fiction. She wants her stories to bring sunshine and smiles to her readers. She enjoys improv comedy, moody music, everything book related, and has an ongoing love affair with the United Kingdom.[Top]