Non-spoiler excerpts. Launching date: October 2018
When the Second Wave Feminism crosses paths with the Troubles . . .
Mistaking gratitude for love comes at a price.
In 1971, Oxford student Emilee Stephens marches with the just-formed Women’s Liberation Movement. She meets Connor O’Hannigan, an intriguing sympathizer who harbors more secrets than the reason he’s at the march.
Despite her friends’ repeated warnings—and even hints that he may be in the IRA—Emilee falls for Connor when he saves her life in a kayaking accident.
The two marry and have a daughter, Caitlynn Aine. On the child’s third birthday, daughter and father disappear, leaving only an abandoned car and a small red jacket behind.
Decades pass—until Emilee receives a letter from her presumed-dead former husband.
An Unfamiliar Kindness asks an unanswerable question: How much does love cost?
An Unfamiliar Kindness is 20th-century historical fiction and uses the 1970s Women’s Liberation Movement (which kicked off in London) and The Troubles in Northern Ireland during the same period, as a backdrop.
Here’s a taste from the first chapter, the prologue.
PrologueThe letter. Oxford, UK. 29 July 2000.
Emilee was afraid, not of dying, but of picking up her mail.
This had to stop, she realized—her being so terrified. Each time the heaviness choked the life from her. All these years—all the therapy sessions—wasted.
Friday afternoons became a calculated dance, rehearsed to precision. Only in the safety of her apartment, the doors locked, two fingers of Dún Léire on the rocks later—would she sort through the postal pieces, berating herself for being such a coward.
And the therapist claimed I’d outgrow my angst. Well, she knows shit.
It started as a game. He was smart. Serious. A complex man. She loved the challenge, in spite of the intimidation; the elaborate daily test. The changes were subtle, so slight she didn’t notice. Her insecurity grew under his ridicule. It turned into a maelstrom, from where there soon was no escape. And, when he got ill, it blossomed into a full-scale dread—of living with an unpredictable man. From the mountaintops he plunged into valleys of desolation, the momentum hauling her along. She loved him and yet learned to fear for Caitlynn and herself when he became aggressive, vindictive. Then, one night, they disappeared; without a word, without warning. No last kiss.
The search was a stillbirth from the start. Caitie’s red jacket was discovered a week later a mile downstream. Nothing else. How does a heart heal when it is denied farewell, denied closure, even a burial? It was three years later when Emilee filed for an annulment. For the declarations of presumed death, she had to wait seven.
She remained hopeful to receive word—a letter, a notice in a newspaper, a sign—even a body.
There was nothing.
When the official documents arrived, after seven years of waiting, seven years of hoping, she could begin her grieving.
Emilee surprised even herself as she bolted away from the counter, her face drained. The high stool crashed over, and her mail scattered as she glanced around the room. Shivering, she shook her hand with the letter as if to free itself of the calamity that had entered her house and from the horror that had attached itself to her fingers: a handwritten envelope with no return address.
They were dead. Connor and Caitie are dead. It was official. The courts had confirmed that all those many years ago. In the end, she believed it to be so.
And even if that were no longer the case, how could he have known my mailing address? If he found my address, then he knows where I live. Why an old-fashioned letter? He must be outside, watching the house. She shuddered. But he’s dead, Emilee. And Caitie? He must know what happened.
She scrutinized the letter under the glaring spotlights of her breakfast nook. It is him. The way he curled his n’s. He must have a tremor now. The post office stamp was legible: 27 July 2000. Unmistakable. It had been mailed in Slough. So he went back. Still clinging to the unopened letter, she grabbed her cell phone and darted through the house, again checking the front door.
(To be continued . . .)
The plan is to launch An Unfamiliar Kindness during the first week of October 2018. It will be available as an eBook and paperback. An audiobook format will follow. I am busy putting together a launch team for the book. No author can hope to have success with a book without a dedicated and vibrant launch team. A launch team is a group of enthused supporters who are instrumental in getting the word out on launch day, they leave an online review, and help promote the book in their spheres of influence.
Being part of a launch team is so much more than just being part of a particular book—it’s about becoming part of a movement, a tribe, that promotes storytelling. Here’s the thing: storytelling changes lives. And, everybody has a story!
My launch team members each receive an electronic/digital version of the book to read in advance, as well as a signed printed copy of the book. They then leave an online review (on Amazon) during the first 72 hours that the book goes live. Launch team members also gain FREE access to ALL my published books in eBook format, as well as the audio format, as soon as the latter becomes available.
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This post is also published on Medium.com.
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