A Most Desirable Marriage

A Most Desirable Marriage

A Most Desirable Marriage

 

“I was so torn, writing this book… I wasn’t sure till I was right at the end… So much hurt and betrayal can’t just fade away…”

Lawrence and Jo enjoy a strong marriage, the envy of their friends. Even after thirty years they have lots to say to each other, many interests in common and, until recently, a good sex life.

But now Lawrence is wary and restless. Something’s wrong. Just how wrong, Jo is about to discover…

Can they use their years of history – all the things they’ve shared – to overcome a devastating betrayal?

‘I’m fascinated by long marriages,’ says Hilary Boyd. ‘The average length of a marriage at the beginning of the last century was 15 years. Now it’s not uncommon to make 50. But what is it like to be married to the same person for so long? How do we make it work?’

Jo and Lawrence, like so many other people, never question their marriage, never really talk about it much. They’ve both had careers, brought up their two kids and are now approaching retirement – things have gone relatively smoothly for them.

But we change over a lifetime. And we probably should get wise to the fact that maybe our marriages do too. What works for a thirty-something won’t necessarily work for a sixty-something. 

When, out of the blue, Lawrence announces that he’s having a relationship with someone else, it’s obviously shattering for Jo. Especially at her age – her chances of finding another partner at 60 being much reduced. She could face being old and alone.

But despite what he’s done, the ties between her and Lawrence are still so strong. It’s very hard to break what is literally a habit of a lifetime. They are good friends as much as lovers. 

What will win out? The thrill Lawrence is experiencing of new, exciting sex – reinventing himself, just when he’s scared of retirement and all it implies? Or the enduring nature of love and close friendship?

 ‘I was so torn, writing this book,’ Hilary says. ‘I wasn’t sure till I was right at the end, whether I wanted Jo and Lawrence to make it together. So much hurt and betrayal can’t just fade away. If they are to be together it’ll take a huge amount of work… but it’s not impossible. I do believe that.’

 

“I loved the fact that the central character is a strong, older woman. She does have her moments when she just wants to lock herself away from the world, but generally I found myself wanting to cheer her on as she chooses to get on with her life. I always think that it is important to care for the characters that you read about and I really did in this book which is probably why I felt so involved.

Hilary Boyd has an easy style of writing and the subject matter is very contemporary. Having read other books from this author, A Most Desirable Marriage definitely heads my list. It’s a most desirable read.”

The Bookbag

When You Walked Back into My Life

When You Walked Back into My Life

When You Walked Back into My Life

 

Flora is in her late thirties, currently working as a private nurse for an old lady in South Kensington. Fin is a climber and all-round adventurer.

For eight years Flora’s love affair with Fin is a whirlwind of fun and spontaneity. But when Flora wants to settle down and have children, Fin vanishes. No phone call, no letter propped against the teapot, nothing.

Flora, naturally, is devastated. But life moves on and her world eventually fills with other people, other cares. She wants to believe there are benefits to being single – no socks under the bed, no mess in the bathroom – but the memory of Fin never really leaves her.

Then one day Flora is out shopping for the old lady she cares for – years after Fin leaves – and suddenly, shockingly, there he is, right in front of her.

‘I’m a changed man,’ he insists. Because he wants Flora back.

Is this a chance to put right previous wrongs? Or is it a massive mistake on Flora’s part?

“I worked as a private nurse for a while… I thought it was quite a strange situation… You have a key to someone else’s home, you almost live there…  you get to know everything about them”

‘I worked as a private nurse for a while, and I thought it was quite a strange situation for both nurse and patient.’ Hilary says. ‘You have a key to someone else’s home, you almost live there. And gradually you get to know everything about them – their friends and relatives, what they like eating, where they like to go, and a lot of their history. It’s a very responsible position, especially as the patient is almost always vulnerable in some way. If the job goes on for a long time – which many do – the house and the person she’s nursing become like an alternative family.’ 

It seemed like a good backdrop for a novel, but it’s always tricky making a woman character sympathetic, when she takes back a man who’s hurt her badly – however penitent he might be. Hilary didn’t want Flora to be a wimp. She wanted her just to be vulnerable, like we all are, to the prospect of love.

I absolutely loved it, I was hooked from page one. Yes it’s obvious from early on what is going to happen but I didn’t care at all. I just loved Flora, Dorothea, Simon, Mary and Bel

GoodReads

“Love, forgiveness and second chances are all touched upon in this compelling, romantic story”

Closer

“This novel is a good yarn with a dilemma you’ll be talking about long after you’ve finished the book”

Candis Book of the Month

Tangled Lives

Tangled Lives

Tangled Lives

 

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.’

Listen to a chapter 

“Poignant, well observed and wonderfully written… a heart string-puller”

Closer

“At times this is heartbreaking, yet is at heart a very human story about the complications arising from keeping secrets in the family”

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Thursdays In The Park

Thursdays In The Park

Thursdays in the Park

 

Jeanie has been married to George for decades. But ten years ago, George suddenly left the marital bed and wouldn’t explain why. Their marriage is now teetering on the brink. Enter Ray, an aikido expert. He and Jeanie meet accidentally in the park, both of them with their grandchildren in tow. And, over the next weeks, slowly begin to fall in love. But Jeanie is 60. Is it too late to find happiness with Ray? Or would staying in her difficult marriage be the safest thing? 

Hilary Boyd was in the park one day, like Jeanie, with her granddaughter. She saw an older man, with his grandson, across the playground. And she thought, hmm, good place to set a love story. But she had just turned 60 and she didn’t want to write about much younger people. She wanted to write about what was happening to her right now, as an older woman.

She didn’t run off with the man in the park – although when her husband read the book for the first time, he did give her some strange looks – but she wrote a love story about older people. Which, in 2010, was not a common thing. Love was exclusively for the young, in fiction.

Quercus publishers picked up the book, offering Hilary a two-book deal. Thursdays didn’t do much business for the first year – 2011 – only selling around 3,000 copies. Then, almost a year later, the e-book began climbing the Amazon e-book bestseller’s chart, and eventually stood at Number 1 – for 6 weeks. Robert McCrum, a journalist with the Observer newspaper at the time, picked up the story and wrote about the phenomenon he called ‘Gran-Lit’. Suddenly everyone wanted to know. And a genre was born: Grannies behaving badly. Thursdays became an international bestseller, translation rights sold in 23 countries, to date.

‘I think it was about time older women got a voice,’ says Hilary Boyd. ‘It’s traditional for women to become invisible – certainly sexually – after a certain age. But these days women of sixty and older are not like previous generations. Many of us are fitter, healthier – younger in appearance – and we have more economic independence, are better plugged in to modern life than our mums were.’

Hilary admires Jane Wood at Quercus for being brave enough to publish an older love story. ‘It would have been so easy for her to say, let’s make Jeanie and Ray ten years younger,’ Hilary says. ‘But she stuck to her guns, knowing something would be lost if they were.’ Since then, older heroes and heroines have become much more prevalent in contemporary fiction.

Listen to a chapter 

“Warm and well written”

Daily Telegraph

“A tender and intriguing love story… Boyd is as canny as Joanna Trollope at observing family life”
Christena Appleyard

Daily Mail

“I was ripping through this book. It’s the sort of addictive book you think you might be able to resist, but can’t”

Evening Standard