Two ordinary sisters. A long and brutal war. A heroic sacrifice… London, 1915. As German bombs rain down on the East End of London and hungry children queue for rations in the blistering cold, fifteen-year-old Florrie is forced to grow up fast. With her father fighting in the muddy trenches, Florrie turns to her older sister Edith for comfort. But the war has changed Edith. She has grown quiet, with dark shadows under her eyes, and has started leaving the house at night in secret. When Florrie follows her sister through the dark and winding streets of London, she is shocked by what she discovers. But she knows she must keep her sister’s secret for the sake of their family, even if she herself must pay the ultimate price… Years later Kate, running from her broken relationship, is sorting through her dead aunt Florrie’s house, which she shared with her sister Edith. As she sits on the threadbare carpets, looking at photos of Florrie during the war, she notices the change in her aunt – from carefree young girl with a hopeful smile to a hollow-cheeked young woman, with dark sad eyes. Determined to put her family’s ghosts to rest, Kate must unearth the secret past of her two aunts. Why is there a hidden locked room in the little house they shared? What is the story behind the abandoned wedding dress wrapped in tissue and tied up with a ribbon? And when Kate discovers the tragic secrets that have bound her family together, will she ever be able to move on? A heartbreaking historical novel of war, tragedy and the sacrifices we make for those we love. Fans of Fiona Valpy, Kristin Hannah and Victoria Hislop will be hooked by The Shut-Away Sisters. What everyone is saying about Suzanne Goldring: ‘ I could not put this book down, and heaven help anyone that tried to disturb my reading!! I absolutely loved this book! I laughed, I cried, I cheered… what a fantastic read.’ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘I just couldn't put this one down. I loved every page and I went through an entire box of tissues before I was done. You will keep turning the pages until the very end because you just won't be able to put it down at all.’ Crossroad Reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘ It made me cry at so many points… It left me completely hooked and towards the end I just couldn’t put the book down!’ Stardust Book Reviews, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘Wow! Where do I even begin? I was captivated from the very first page right up until the very last… So easy to get swept up into the story and lose yourself completely within the pages. Captivating, compelling and heartbreaking… Absolutely brilliant.’ Confessions of a Bookaholic, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
‘Captivating, poignant and heart-warming… I couldn't put it down!… A raw and heartbreaking story that had me engrossed from the first few pages… Wonderfully compelling.’ Dash Fan, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Release date: June 29, 2021
Print pages: 350
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The Shut-Away Sisters
Kate traced her fingertip through the film of dust that powdered the contents of the locked room. Everything, the bookcase, the desk, the row of books supported by onyx bookends, all was dusted in sleep. And the cover of the maroon book squarely centred on the blotter on the desk was faded, even though very little sunlight filtered through the window, almost completely shrouded as it was by Virginia creeper.
She opened the book, letting the pages fall open. Dates at the top of each page made it clear that this was a diary. The ink was still crisp and clear, curling and looping in handwriting formed by strict schooldays. She could see the stern schoolmistress, rows of desks, pens dipping into inkwells, tracing the script on straight lines. And the books standing neatly side by side before the window were also diaries. They were inviting her to read them, to discover why they had not been destroyed by their author, but had been locked in a room without a key for many years.
She flicked through the pages, then read, I fear for Edith’s well-being, but feel I must act with the utmost discretion for fear of drawing unwanted attention to her fragile state of mind.
Kate shivered. Perhaps she shouldn’t read any further. It felt like prying, reading a diary written by someone she knew, or at least thought she knew. But because Great-aunt Florrie was no longer here and because the events covered in these pages had happened so long ago, it seemed as if she’d been granted leave to read, to understand and maybe even begin to make amends.
And as she looked at the tired, faded journal in her hands and turned the closely written pages, she told herself that she should not be afraid to read its story. This time she could not be hurt and shocked. This time there would be no pain. This time she could just look on and observe.
But as she started to read, she felt the ache once more. Twisting, churning agony deep inside her, reminding her how she felt the day she discovered what David was really like, the day she uncovered the truth.
Kate Miles, successful public relations consultant, lover of Pinot Grigio Blush and spaghetti carbonara, frequenter of Harvey Nicks and regular consumer of cappuccino, was woken by a hand groping her breasts. She could feel David’s erection pressing against her thigh and his hand began pushing between her legs.
‘Not till you’ve done your teeth, dopey,’ she said, rolling out of bed. He murmured, then fell asleep again, while she went in the bathroom, made tea and curled on the sofa to watch the news on TV. Nothing suggested that day was going to be anything other than a normal working day.
‘What time are you back tonight?’ David asked when he was eventually up, after draining a mug of coffee.
‘I’m not going in today, remember? I’ve got the dentist first thing, so then I’m working from home.’
‘Meet me at the office about six then? We can get a drink and try that new tapas bar.’
He bent to kiss Kate’s head as she read the paper. He smelt of the cologne she’d given him for his recent birthday. He looked nice too in his grey suit and fresh white shirt. She turned towards him, hoping they could kiss some more, but it was time for him to go and sell more overpriced flats and rake in the commission he so greedily anticipated.
Kate made herself another slice of toast and spread it with thick crunchy peanut butter. She didn’t normally have breakfast. She usually left the flat even earlier than David and was rarely back before eight in the evening. Many nights she had to attend events connected with her business, so working from home was a rare treat.
She opened the door to the generous balcony overlooking the gardens of neighbouring flats and houses and sat there finishing her tea and toast. The sun was already warm and the pots of pink pelargoniums she’d planted (and tried to remember to water) were flourishing. A neighbour’s black cat was stalking a thrush on the lawn below, but otherwise the world looked perfect and she was content.
She had reached the age of thirty-five and been living with David for five years, as well as enjoying a demanding career in a central London PR consultancy; life seemed good. Their high-ceilinged flat in Islington, with ornate ceiling roses and fireplaces (what estate agents call ‘original features’), meant they were entitled to a key to the square’s garden bordered by high iron railings and an invitation to the residents’ summer garden party. With plenty of friends and bars nearby, she had everything she needed for now.
Kate hummed as she dressed. No business suit today, just comfortable linen trousers and a blouse she picked out of the sliding-door wardrobes that had come with the flat. Not my kind of storage, she thought. One day I’ll have a country house full of stripped pine and distressed paint. Her half of the wardrobe was filled with black trousers, blouses and blazers. David’s, with his suits, almost looked the same, except his was tidier and her many shoes, her one weakness, were stacked in boxes.
Later that morning, Kate returned from her dental appointment with a numb jaw after two fillings. That was expensive, she thought, but good to get it done before going away. She was looking forward to their holiday in a week’s time. Two weeks in Mykonos with nothing to do but bake on a sunbed, swim, make love and eat Greek salads. Should do me the world of good, being away from a desk and drinking with journalists.
David had arranged it all, but she hadn’t seen the confirmation. Where were the contact details she had to leave with the office? Kate logged on to David’s computer. The password he used for everything still made her roll her eyes: ‘Sexybeast1066’. She had no qualms about checking his email. Why should she? They shared everything, they were lovers and partners. She wouldn’t have opened post that landed on the doormat, but this was different, this was a practical necessity.
Kate scrolled through his mailbox. She couldn’t find any news from the travel agent, but, as well as the inevitable approaches from the Viagra hawkers and property alerts, there were two new messages from a Vanessa M on a Hotmail address. The name seemed vaguely familiar… Without really thinking about what she was doing, Kate opened the first message.
Davey darling, last night was simply amazing. Can’t wait for an action replay. You are such a sexy guy. Love you. Nessa xxx
For a tiny moment, a few seconds in which the world stilled and froze, Kate couldn’t understand what she was reading. Who was this Vanessa and why was she calling him ‘Davey darling’? And then she thought about the previous evening, eating alone. Was this why David hadn’t come back for supper last night? He’d texted an excuse but Kate hadn’t minded as she was tired and just wanted to curl up with a bowl of pasta after a busy day.
She clicked on the second message and as soon as she read it, the truth became horrifyingly clear and a knot of pain twisted in her stomach.
No one, but no one, can make me come so intensely. Last night was incredible. I can’t wait for another chance to make you mine. Love you, love you loads. N. xxx
‘Shit, shit, shit,’ Kate swore aloud. She didn’t want to believe what the emails were telling her. Could there be a reasonable explanation? No. The truth was there in black and white with a stream of kisses. David was having an affair with this woman.
How long had this been happening? Kate knew she had to find out more and without stopping to think about how shocking the consequences might be, she started checking David’s bulging files of incoming and outgoing mail.
Once Kate realised what he’d done, she found the evidence was everywhere, in full, sordid detail. How could he not have thought about that? He could have spared her the pain of discovery if he’d just cleared his mailbox. She bit her numb lip, feeling an ache in her gum. The injection was starting to wear off. ‘Don’t cry, don’t cry,’ she muttered to herself, choking back the ball of tears welling in her throat. And then she shouted, ‘Got you, you sodding bastard!’ as she found David’s replies.
Vanessa’s emails were the more explicit of the two-way correspondence, but David’s confirmed that he was delighted to receive them. He wrote,
Hey Naughty Nessa, love sucking and fucking you and burying my head in your delicious boobs.
And judging from the dates of the messages he had failed to delete, he’d evidently been enjoying her attentions for several months. Kate was angry with both of them for conducting this sordid affair, but especially with David for his smug assumption that his infidelity wouldn’t be discovered.
When she’d finished reading their passionate declarations, Kate slumped at the desk with her head in her hands. Who was this Vanessa? A friend of a friend or one of David’s clients? He could have met her at the office or showing a flat; there were so many ways he could have got to know her. Kate felt sick and her heart was racing. She was talking to herself, cursing and crying at the same time.
‘Damn him. I wish I hadn’t known about this. But now I do, I can think of nothing else! All those times when I had to work late and he must have been with her. Bastard!’
And then she started wondering where else he might have left evidence of his tainted tracks. His mobile. He’s always getting calls at odd times. I do too, but he’s always extremely anxious to answer it. And then he’s shifty about who called, saying he’ll call back very soon. It could mean nothing, but it happened far more often with him than with anyone else Kate knew.
‘Think you’re so clever, do you?’ she muttered as she checked the files where David stored all his accounts, including the phone bills. ‘This will teach you not to be such a stingy prick.’ Kate knew he was meticulous about his financial affairs, keeping records for at least a year. But this time his efficiency was his downfall. There was nothing unusual on the landline but on his mobile account there were numerous calls to one number. It wasn’t his office, it wasn’t his mother or his ex-wife. It had to be her. So Kate rang it.
The voice that answered the call was husky and lazy. Kate immediately pictured a skinny but big-busted blonde, the sort with long hair, a heavy fringe and big sunglasses. Perhaps she was wearing low-slung jeans with a heavy buckled leather belt and a thin cardigan, its buttons gaping and straining to show her tanned and freckled cleavage.
‘Vanessa?’ Kate said. ‘Is that Vanessa?’
‘Yeah, who’s this?’ She answered as if she was drawing on a cigarette while she spoke.
‘Oh, I’ve got a message for you from David. He asked me to call you.’
‘Oh right,’ she said. ‘Is there a problem? He’s still coming tomorrow, I hope.’
‘Yes, he is. He’s fine for tomorrow. In fact, he’s fine for as long as you want him, from now on.’
‘Who’s this? What are you talking about?’
‘I’m telling you that “Davey Darling”, as you call him, is all yours now. And I wouldn’t have him back if you paid me. But be careful, dear, make sure you wash your hands afterwards. You’ll never know who else he’s been screwing!’
And then Kate slammed down the phone and burst into tears. She fumed with anger at his stupidity and his selfishness.
She realised she had been transformed in the course of only a few minutes from a docile and doting lover into an avenging madwoman. Her vengeance may not have been the wittiest or the most original, but it was appropriate. She didn’t stuff prawns inside the curtain linings, nor slash his suits or pour paint over his car, but she did grab all his clean white shirts, the crisp white shirts that he preened in with his tailored dark suits and silk ties, and threw them into the washing machine with a bright red towel and all his white underpants.
She looked around the sitting room with its cream corner sofa and velvet cushions, where they’d curled up together on rare nights at home, watching Friends and laughing. She couldn’t bear to ruin the furnishings or spoil the flat in any way. It had been their home, a home they’d made together, choosing the furniture as if they were just like any other faithful, loving couple. And then, after she’d packed her bags and was finally ready to leave the flat, she sent him an email.
David, I won’t be here when you get home. You’ll know why when you read the fax I’ve just sent to your office.
Kate sat for a moment thinking how often she’d ridiculed his reliance on old-fashioned faxes. More fool him. And now this one would be picked up by his secretary and maybe read by other staff going to and fro in the busy estate agents’ office. Perhaps he was out, conducting a client around an expensive property. The fax would be torn from the machine and placed on his desk, where anyone could see it. In large black letters on the first page, Kate wrote, ‘Cover your tracks next time, you fucking idiot,’ followed by a copy of one of the most explicit emails from Vanessa:
Hey Davey love, next time, I want to make you come all over my tits then rub it in all over. It’s so good for my skin! Nessa xxx
And then Kate wiped away her tears and left.
13 March 1915
I think I shall keep a diary
for the rest of my life.
I pressed the blotting paper over the page and closed my diary. I’m going to ask Mother and Father for another diary this Christmas. Maybe my diaries will be famous, giving a true account of the home front during the war. Like Miss Richards said at school, about Samuel Pepys, when we learnt about the Fire of London.
‘That’s enough scribbling for now, Florence, dear,’ Mother said. ‘You’ll strain your eyes if you carry on. Come and sit by the fire and help me ball up this wool.’ She patted the low stool and held out the dark blue skein, then I sat before her and held out my arms. The sitting room wasn’t very dark, with the gas lamps lit and the fire flickering, but Mother fretted over all of us. Georgie lay on the rug, arranging his toy soldiers and shouting, ‘Kapow, kapow,’ every few minutes. The only other sounds were the crackling of the fire, the soft ticking of the clock on the mantelpiece and Father’s gentle snores. He rested in his armchair on the other side of the fireplace, tired from his work at the builders’ yard. I think he must be working harder now some of his men have gone off to fight.
So many young men have gone away. Frank has gone too. I think he and Edith will be married one day, when he returns. And then I thought to ask Mother a question, as she wound the wool from my hands: ‘I saw the ladies with the white feathers again today. Near the town hall.’
Mother frowned. ‘Oh, not again. Interfering busybodies!’
‘What are they doing?’
‘They are trying to shame men into joining the army. Trouble is, they pounce on any man regardless of his occupation or family responsibilities. The Order of the White Feather, they call themselves. They’re just enjoying telling men what to do for a change.’
‘Did they give Frank a white feather? Is that why he went off to be a soldier?’ I missed seeing Edith’s suitor, who used to tease me when he called to see my older sister. He said when I was sixteen he’d introduce me to a nice young man of my own.
‘No, dear. He joined of his own accord, right at the very start, along with most of his friends.’ She shook her head and sighed. ‘All of them, all gone together.’
‘But it must be nice to go away with friends if you have to fight in the war.’
‘I expect so, dear. And we must hope they all come back together safely. All of them.’
Edith was the only family member absent from the room. I thought it unfair that I had to stop writing my diary and help Mother, while Edith was allowed to write in her room as much as she liked. Ever since Frank joined up, she hasn’t been the same sister I once had. She used to be such fun, teasing me, her little sister. She played pat-a-cake and skipping with me when I was very young and was always ready to play tennis in the park before the war. She’s writing to Frank again, I expect. I suppose if I was seventeen and old enough to have a sweetheart in the army, I’d want to write to him all the time too. But most of all I wish I could have my old sister back and I said, ‘Mother, you told me to stop keeping my diary but you never tell Edith to stop writing her letters and her stupid poems.’
‘That’s unkind of you, Florrie. Edith is very clever and was doing well in her secretarial and bookkeeping course at the college. Your father hopes she may be able to help him in the office now and again. And she has hopes of more of her poetry being published. She has been quite successful so far.’
Father stirred himself. ‘If Edith could tear herself away from her desk, she could come and work for me full-time as my clerk. That would be a great help. I need someone keeping records of timber and the jobs they’re used for.’
‘Only sometimes, Joe,’ Mother said. ‘I’ve told you before, I’ve not worked so hard all these years for my daughters to go out to work full-time, and Edith must learn how to run her own household one day. Florrie is learning all the time by helping me, aren’t you, dearest?’ She shook her head. ‘If only Edith wasn’t fretting so about Frank. She’s running down to the town hall to check the casualty list at least twice a day.’
As I moved my hands in time with Mother’s wool-winding, I thought it must be satisfying to earn a wage and have an independent income. I’m sure if I tried harder I could learn as much as Edith. She won the English prize every year when she was still at school. But I’ve only been given a merit for being kind and polite.
‘And talking of households,’ Mother said, ‘if it’s all the same to you, I’m going to tell Old Ted to give the flower beds over to vegetables. If this war is going to last, then I’d rather have a good supply of food in the larder than flowers in vases. The beds are fallow all winter anyway.’
‘Not my roses though, Mavis. We can keep the roses, surely?’ Father pruned his roses and was so proud of the large scented flowers. If he saw the grocer’s horse drop a clod in the street when deliveries were brought to the house, he was out with a shovel before anyone else could lay claim to it.
‘Very well. I’ll let you have your roses.’ Mother smiled. He often brought her a flower to smell the scent in the summer. One time I saw him tuck a bloom behind her ear and then kiss her, making her blush and giggle. ‘And the hens are laying well, but they’ll lay less as winter comes and then we shall have to see if we can buy eggs.’
‘Can we let some hatch this year?’ I asked. ‘Then we’d have chicks and more eggs.’
‘Maybe,’ Mother said. ‘And sometimes we’ll have a chicken for the table too.’
Then Georgie leapt up and ran to the window, pulling apart the thick curtains that blacked out the lights and pressing his nose to the glass. ‘I heard the whistle,’ he shouted. ‘We’ve got to get in the shelter. But I can’t see the Zep yet.’
‘I don’t think that was the alarm,’ Father said, getting to his feet, groaning with the effort. He went to the front door and listened, then came back. ‘Not this time. Just some fool whistling in the street. They’ve banned it, but some lads think it’s a lark to stir folks from their firesides.’
‘I thought the fireman told us when to go,’ I said.
One evening the previous week we’d heard a policeman cycling through the streets, ringing his bell and calling out ‘Take Cover,’ but Mother said we’d be safe and sound just where we were by the fireside and should keep on with our work.
‘Once was enough,’ Mother said. ‘I know you think we should leave the house when the warning comes, but I’m not going in that damp shelter again for love nor money. So we can stay sleeping in our own beds and we shall all be quite safe, in my opinion.’
I didn’t like it much either. The shelter was cold and musty and most uncomfortable. And Mother said that no bombs were going to fall nearby as our house was so far away from the targets the Germans were seeking. I was worried at first, but Mother is always right. Why would they want to come so far across the Channel and drop their bombs on ordinary people when they can aim them at really important targets such as munitions factories and ships?
While I sat there, holding the wool, I remembered how everyone at school had been saying that they wanted to watch for Zeppelins. Stupid John Mathews, said he saw one right over his house, but we all said no Zeppelin would come to his house specially as they are saving their bombs for the docks and the Arsenal. If I was a German, I’d want to make sure my bombs counted for something and wouldn’t waste them on him.
The last thread of wool slipped off my wrist and I went to stand up. ‘No, I’m not finished yet,’ Mother said, passing me yet another skein, for Mother knitted whenever she had a chance to sit down. Never an idle moment, she was always saying, taking up her mending or knitting bag whenever she wasn’t supervising Norah who helped, or cooking our meals. Mothers are such busy people, what with their own work and teaching their daughters their skills as well. I wonder if I shall be so occupied when I am grown.
‘Of course you can come, darling,’ Kate’s mother said, when she called her before leaving the flat. ‘It will be lovely to have you here for a while. How long can you stay?’
‘A couple of nights, I think. Would that be all right?’ Kate said vaguely. She couldn’t give her a clear answer. She had no idea how long she wanted to stay. She just knew she wanted to be somewhere safe; somewhere she could lick her wounds and recover from the pain.
At first, driving out of London in early rush-hour traffic and cold rain, Kate felt numb with shock. Five years of her life were over, wasted by David’s selfishness. She felt sorry for herself, abandoned at thirty-five and having to start again. She kept thinking that now she might never marry, now she might never have children.
She stopped for petrol and forced herself to look at the clinical display of plastic sandwiches. There wasn’t much choice this late in the afternoon. She hadn’t eaten since early that morning because of her dental appointment and she didn’t fancy cheese and pickle or tuna with sweetcorn. It was now nearly five and she should have been hungry, but she felt sick and tired and had no appetite, so she just picked out the biggest bag of Maltesers she could find and started eating them as soon as she drove away from the forecourt. As she munched, her melancholy was replaced by anger; fury at the wreckage David had made of her life, rage at the damage he had inflicted on her dreams. ‘You bastard, you fucking bastard,’ she kept repeating as she drove, gripping the steering wheel hard.
I wasn’t asking for the world, just for a quiet, loving marriage with companionship and children. I thought I was being realistic; we’d both had our share of unsatisfactory relationships and disastrous affairs in the past. But I’d been so sure this was it, this was the one that would outlive all the others.
Kate remembered when she first met David at a mutual friend’s party, thrown in honour of a girl who was leaving London to work in Los Angeles. ‘Clare’s a wonderful girl,’ he said when she asked how they knew each other. ‘We went out for a while, but now we’re just good friends.’
‘I’m impressed,’ Kate said. ‘It’s great you two are still on good terms.’ She thought this was a sign he was a decent, uncomplicated person who treated everyone well and didn’t make enemies.
After that they met more and more frequently until finally they were together all the time. David had seemed so relaxed and it was so easy to get to know him, but now Kate thought that maybe that was part of the problem; he could like and be liked by everyone and maybe he didn’t know how to differentiate between the serious and the not-so-serious.
She drove past the open plains of Wiltshire fuming at his deceit, cursing loudly every few minutes as she thought about his behaviour. By the time she was rolling through the softer countryside of Dorset her jaw was aching, not just from the after-effects of the dentist’s anaesthetic but from clenching and grinding her teeth with fury at David’s betrayal.
But when she pulled up in the driveway of her parents’ house, The Old Vicarage, wreathed in scented climbing roses, bathed in golden early evening sun, Kate felt small and pathetic. Her mother opened the door to greet her, wearing one of her home-made gingham aprons over her dress. She opened her arms to her daughter with her customary warmth and as Kate felt her cosy solidity and smelt that familiar scent of custard, dogs and cold cream, she was a child again, lost in the dark, fallen from a swing or stung on the knee. She buried her face in her mother’s old blue cardigan and immediately let out a sob. And once she had started, she couldn’t stop.
‘Kate, love, it’s all right,’ was all her mother said, holding her tight and stroking her hair. She held her until she was calmer and then, still holding her child and without looking into her eyes, she just asked, ‘Is it David?’ Kate nodded and then she felt an arm around her shoulders as she was led into the spacious kitchen warmed by the cream Aga and scented with the smell of baked puff pastry and chicken.
‘Now you sit down while I finish shelling these peas. Dinner’s nearly ready. I’ve made your favourite – chicken pie. That should make you feel better.’
Kate managed a weak smile at her mother’s confidence that favourite foods could work miracles, but thought in truth she was probably right. She was tired, drained and despondent, but the idea of homely cooking, tasting of safer, earlier times, was a comfort.
‘Why don’t you get us both a sherry?’ her mother suggested. ‘There’s nothing else for you to do, and then you can take your things upstairs while the vegetables finish cooking. And,’ she continued, giving her daughter one of her knowing looks, over the top of her glasses, ‘when you feel like it, you can tell me what’s been going on.’
Kate nodded and fetched the sherry (Amontillado, never cream) from the old Welsh dresser, using the little glasses etched with flowers that her mother always kept in the kitchen for pre-dinner aperitifs to sustain the cook. ‘Where’s Dad? Is he down the garden?’
‘No,’ her mother answered, as she prodded the potatoes. ‘He’s having dinner with his golf crowd this evening. They go out together once a month. So I’ve got you all to myself tonight. And if you can stay for the weekend, you can catch up with Andy and Tim as they’re all coming over with the children for Sunday lunch. I would have let them stay over, but honestly, it’s too much having both families staying here all at the same time.’
‘Oh right. Well, I’d love to stay.’ But Kate didn’t say she was relieved her older brothers wouldn’t be around for the whole weekend. Perhaps after recuperating for a day she’d be able to face them and their families; their beautiful wives and their perfect, bright, energetic children. But for now, she didn’t wish to be reminded that they were in possession of all that she wanted and had imagined would also soon be hers.
Over dinner, which they ate sitting at the scrubbed pine kitchen table, her mother didn’t press Kate to tell her more about her reasons for suddenly leaving London. In fact, she did most of the talking, distracting with chatter of the dog’s misdeeds, the cat’s ailments, her husband’s success in the vegetable garden and his plans for the Garden Club summer show. ‘Your father’s got such high hopes for his marrow,’ she said. ‘He thinks he might actually beat Jim Harris for once this year as there’s been pl. . .
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