Annie Delancey is happily married to Richard, in her early 50s, with three grown children. But Annie guards a dark secret. Aged 18 she had a baby boy, whom she gave up for adoption. She still thinks of him every day, but she never expects to see him again.
Then, out of the blue, she receives an official-looking letter from Kent Social Services. Her son, Daniel, wants to make contact. On one hand she is overjoyed – she longs to meet him. On the other, she has never told her children that they have another sibling.
Tangled Lives follows the effect this powerful revelation has on her family. With Daniel as the catalyst, small tears in the family fabric suddenly become huge.
Hilary wrote this book because she has a friend to whom this happened when she was the same age as fictional Annie.
Like many of her generation – the baby boomer lot – her friend didn’t have the luxury of being able to decide for herself the fate of her baby.
She was bundled off to a home for unmarried mothers, to await her baby’s birth in a cloud of shame. Then she had zero choice – with absolutely no support from her parents or family – but to put the child up for adoption. She was heartbroken, having nursed the child for ten days before he was taken away.
No person – especially a vulnerable teenager – should be treated like this. And, mercifully, times have changed. But the unimaginable trauma of giving up a baby you had begun to bond with, knowing you would probably never set eyes on him again, really stuck with Hilary.
‘This was a difficult book to write… Thursdays had seemed to flow onto the page, but I wasn’t quite sure how I’d written it. So I got the equivalent of ‘second album’ syndrome with Tangled Lives…”
‘This was a difficult book to write,’ Hilary says. ‘Thursdays had seemed to flow onto the page, but I wasn’t quite sure how I’d written it. So I got the equivalent of ‘second album’ syndrome with Tangled Lives. It was much more complex – more characters, more back story, and I used more than one voice. Also, I felt a responsibility to my friend, although her story is just the skeleton of the novel.
The first draft was really not working. Luckily, my editor, Jane Wood, sorted it out with some judicious advice. But it shook my confidence in my writing.’