I’m delighted to be part of the launch celebrations for Being Simon Haines by Tom Vaughan MacAulay and have an extract from the very beginning of the book to share with you today.
Being Simon Haines will be published by Red Door in e-book and paperback on 22nd June 2017 and is available for purchase pre-order here.
Being Simon Haines
Meet Simon Haines.
For a decade he’s been chasing his dream: partnership at the legendary, family-run law firm of Fiennes & Plunkett. The gruelling hours and manic intensity of his job have come close to breaking him, but he has made it through the years and is now within a whisker of his millions: in less than two weeks, he will know the outcome of the partnership vote. He decides to spend the wait in Cuba in an attempt to rediscover his youthful enthusiasm and curiosity, and to clear his mind before the arrival of the news that might change his life forever. But alone in Havana he becomes lost in nostalgia and begins to relive his past…
Set against the backdrop of an uncertain world, and charged with emotion, Being Simon Haines is a searching story about contemporary London and aspiration, values and love. Painting a picture of a generation of young professionals, it asks the most universal of questions: are we strong enough to know who we are?
An Extract from Being Simon Haines
I flew to Havana in memory of earnestness. I was thirty- two years old, professionally accomplished but lacking in wisdom, financially secure but privately adrift, at the point in life when a lawyer recalls Purpose, becomes indignant at the stability afforded by general malaise. It was April 2012 and I had a moment: my eight-month ‘Campaign’ at the law firm of Fiennes & Plunkett, that family-run, exclusive financing and insolvency boutique of the City of London, was over, and I had to wait for two weeks to see if I would be voted in as a new junior partner; if this blue-eyed boy from Lincoln would become a millionaire. During Campaign, the firm, led by the long legs and mighty silver quiff of Rupert Plunkett, had worked me to a level of nervous exhaustion that required not only a period of recuperation, but also an illusion of escape. Sophie Williams, my now ex-girlfriend, had left me only recently. In London spring had been withheld and even the April showers’ vitality curbed, so that instead a fine rain, incessant in its listlessness, drifted through cold, hurried streets below a sky of gloom.
‘Just disappear for a while, Simon – it’ll do you good. God, that sounds banal.’
Dan Serfontein and I had been friends since university – all the way through law school, the training contract and the associate years at Fiennes & Plunkett. Son of a fund manager from Cape Town and his beautiful wife, Dan’s towering alpha- male physique held up a boyish, infuriatingly handsome face and a head of thick blond hair. Dan had poise, that special assurance of all of Belgravia’s children, but unlike them he had an admirable, manic determination too – despite, or rather because of, the family money. All this Dan Serfontein had – but he did not quite have the mind, the obsessive attention to detail, the neurotic speed of thought, to go all the way at Fiennes & Plunkett. He had left just a couple of weeks before the horror of Campaign had begun, burnt out and unable to go on, and now swam the calmer waters of in-house law.
‘No idea how you got through it, mate. You should be proud of yourself, whatever happens – you’re far stronger than I am.’
After much pondering, one morning the apotheosis of strength that was Mr Simon Haines decided where to go. Selecting the age category of 28–35s, I booked myself on a group tour of Cuba, through an agency specialising in bona fide trips for bona fide travellers. Cuba was, I supposed, a place that I had always wanted to see; and those friends of mine who had made me wince when speaking of ‘re-connection with your spirit’ did perhaps have a point, albeit atrociously expressed. For the idea of a faraway land, of new air, brought about a flicker of an old emotion that lay deeper than consciousness …
About Tom Vaughan MacAulay
Tom Vaughan MacAulay was born in Chester and now lives in North London. Tom is a solicitor and has worked in both London and Milan. He is in the process of completing his second novel.
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