Today I have a fantastic extract for you as part of the blog tour for The Bitches of Suburbia by Jane Owen.
Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour for some fantastic posts.
Nothing much ever happened on Horseshoe Lane – why should it? It was, after all, just a normal suburban backwater with the usual cross section of growing families, ageing pensioners, the occasional singleton and a brace of curtain twitchers. The arrival of celebrity couple, Heavenly and Travis, however, changes all that. This glamorous pair bring about a summer of competitive party throwing and ambitious home improvement projects that will have disastrous and completely unforeseen consequences.
Neighbours who’ve got by for years with just the occasional chat over a garden fence about the unseasonable amount of rain or the state of next door’s garden are slowly united by suspicion as a husband goes missing, a much loved cat turns up dead on a doorstep and Enid from Number Seven is found badly injured at the foot of the cliff.
Could one person be responsible for all of this? Could that person be the strange and unlikeable Hilary Jones from Number Nine? There was only going to be one way to find out and it was going to involve a lot of whiskey….
In this her wonderful follow up to ‘The Rock Star Known as Horse’, Owen’s riveting new story finds a murky side to the suburbs, a side where petty jealousies and neighbourly rivalries can escalate out of all control with calamitous results, all intricately observed with her usual dark humour firmly to the fore.
She looked back up the road and watched the last of the boxes come off the big burgundy lorry. Even Hilary with her limited imagination could see that Casa de la Luna was special and all that, Hilary was fairly sure, did not come cheap so the new owners couldn’t be short of a bob or two. Maybe she should make friends with them, ingratiate herself into their lives. Maybe they’d be a glamorous couple who’d throw fabulous parties where she’d meet a wonderful man and then they could all double date, maybe share a villa in Tuscany for a couple of weeks in July, or a ski chalet in the winter. Not that Hilary had even been skiing. In reality, the thought of hurtling down the side of a mountain with two thin bits of wood strapped to her feet absolutely terrified her but the idea of après ski, such as she understood it, was very appealing indeed.
She was almost right: the new residents would certainly turn out to be a glamorous couple and they would indeed throw fabulous parties but, despite her best efforts, all of Hilary’s attempts to ingratiate herself would not be met with success but rather would bring about a chain of events that would have catastrophic consequences for all concerned. Of course Hilary had no psychic powers, no ability to see what was coming even when it was right under her nose and her inability to see any point of view except her own was a severe handicap when it came to reading social situations but on the plus side, the thought did at least lift her spirits slightly, give her something to look forward to, a light at the end of the tunnel which would sadly turn out to be an oncoming train.
But that was all a long way off and for now, all thoughts of gardening abandoned, Hilary grabbed her wheelie bin, dragged it back down to the gate at the side of her house and left it there. This, although Hilary was completely unaware of the fact, was one of the very actions that annoyed Kelly Cunningham so much, flew in the face of her strongly held view that wheelie bins should live on the other side of side gates and not be visible from the street. Hilary went in her front door and closed it behind her. Her house was of the upside down variety: once through the front door, there were two bedrooms and a bathroom off a small hallway and a flight of stairs down to the ground level. Hilary slept in the larger room at the front, on the bed left by her predecessor. When she’d found out the house she’d bought came virtually fully furnished, she’d been so relieved. The thought of having to go out and buy everything, every last little thing had made her feel sick to her stomach. All those decisions, the mere thought of it made her head swim. Even though both bedrooms came with fitted wardrobes and drawers, most of her clothes were still in bin liners and the boxes of personal things that had arrived with her sat unopened in the second bedroom. Since she’d been there, she’d done bugger all really, other than sit on the previous tenant’s sofa and watch his television. She certainly hadn’t properly unpacked and given the small amount of stuff she actually owned, it probably wouldn’t have taken that long. Maybe, somewhere, right down inside her hard little heart, there was a tiny piece of her that didn’t want to unpack because that would make it final, that would be the last thing. The opening of the boxes would bring closure whether she wanted it or not and once there was closure there was no going back. Actually, there was no going back anyway, closure or no closure. Hilary Jones’ fate had been sealed the moment she decided to buy Number Ten Horseshoe Lane.
Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey and Jane Owen for the opportunity to be part of the blog tour.
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About The Author
Jane’s first novel, Camden Girls, was published by Penguin twenty years ago and quickly became an international cult bestseller published in many languages including Japanese, Spanish,German, Hebrew, Italian and Dutch. She’d already spent many years working in the film business working alongside stars such as Christophe Lambert, Andi McDowell, Daryl Hannah and James Remar before switching to the music business and working for bands such as The Who, Robert Plant, ZZTop and many more. Eventually, even that got boring and that’s when she wrote Camden Girls.
After publication, life became interrupted by an unfortunate traffic accident and Jane moved out of London to Sussex and slowly returned to writing. Her novels don’t fit into any specific category and, frustrated by endless rejections along the lines of ‘You write beautifully but we don’t know how to sell this book’ she started self publishing. Rave reviews gave her the confidence to keep going and believe in what she was writing.
She’s still in Sussex, sharing her life with her musician partner, three horses and a dog and divides her day between writing and riding.
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