It gives me great pleasure to be part of the launch celebrations for The Bluebell Bunting Society by Poppy Dolan with an extract today. The Bluebell Bunting Society was published yesterday, 27th March 2017, by Canelo and is available for purchase in e-book here.
I love a custard cream so I’m delighted that the extract I have for you today from The Bluebell Bunting Society features that very biscuit!
The Bluebell Bunting Society
When the going gets tough, the tough get sewing…
Welcome to Bluebell Hall. Pull up a wonky chair, grab a cream bun and settle into a story about a little village, a determined caretaker – and bunting…
At twenty-nine, Connie isn’t quite where she thought she’d be. When her beloved gran died Connie returned to Hazelhurst, the village she grew up in, and took over her gran’s old job as caretaker at the village hall. It might not be the stuff of dreams, but Connie loves working at Bluebell Hall – the heart of the community.
So when Bluebell Hall is threatened with closure, Connie is determined not to let greedy property developers get their hands on it. She hatches a plan bonkers enough that it just might work. All it takes is a needle and thread, scraps of old material and willing hands. Can Connie convince the people of Hazelhurst that their village hall is worth saving? And will she save herself in the process…?
An Extract from The Bluebell Bunting Society
Kidnapping is a strong word. I mean, it’s a proper crime, I get that, but sometimes a bit of light kidnapping for a good cause isn’t so bad. That’s what I’ll tell my priest. Or possibly my barrister.
It was easy enough to crash the Village Committee meeting – they are open to locals, so we can all vote on the theme of this year’s Christmas lights and the May Day Queen election and such. What was trickier was politely cornering the chairman Brian Hicks and persuading him there was some appalling local graffiti that needed his attention, and to follow me straight away.
‘At the Hall?’ he’d spluttered. ‘That’s appalling! I mean, it’s not really my remit, but it says ‘Hazlehurst Sucks’ you say? It must be those Latimer scoundrels. Just because they had their village of the year 2009 rosette overturned by an anonymous source exposing their use of fake flowers!’ He pulled at his collar with one finger. Brian, I thought, you’re no stranger to an underhand tactic yourself.
I frog-marched him towards the Hall from the church, wringing my hands at what a tragedy it was, and whatever was I to do. If this caretaking lark did fall through, I could always take a run at Hollyoaks.
But Brian isn’t met by a wall of acid green scrawl and neighbourhood hate speech. When he pokes his red face into the Hall he sees a glorious web of freshly made bunting, strung back and forth from the rafters. Greens and yellows, soft purples and punchy reds. The crisp zigzag of the sheared fabric looks neat and precise, the playful, artful use of patterns and tones brings in energy and fun on top. If I didn’t know better I would have said it was a beautiful Liberty’s display or the launch of a new yacht. But I do know better: it’s Bluebell Hall in a whole new light.
‘Mr Hicks, do forgive my little pantomime there, but on behalf of the Bluebell Bunting Society, may I gift to your committee almost 550 metres of bespoke bunting for the May Day fete.’ At the last minute I pull myself back from a full on curtesy.
He lets out a wheeze of a breath. I’m not sure if he’s dead impressed or just nearly dead from the speed walking here. ‘Really? Is that a real thing, then? A bunting society.’
‘It is now!’ I breeze on. ‘Formed out of necessity – because Bluebell Hall is under threat from corporate development. I’m not sure what your stance is on big businesses coming into the village, erasing our history, Mr Hicks?’
‘Oof, yes, no. Awful. Worse than graffiti!’
‘Well, let me fill you in on the full story. Perhaps over a cup of tea and custard cream?’
About Poppy Dolan
Poppy Dolan lives in Berkshire with her husband. She’s a near-obsessive baker and a keen crafter, so on a typical weekend can be found moving between the haberdashery and kitchenware floors of a department store, adding to her birthday wish list. She has written three novels: The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp, There’s More to Life than Cupcakes and most recently The Bluebell Bunting Society. The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp made it into the Amazon top 100 bestseller chart, so clearly someone other than her mum must have read it. She’s currently working on her fourth novel – it’s about friends, siblings and crafty things – and drinking far too much tea.