Generally I love blogging but occasionally there are some real frustrations. One for me is that I haven’t had time to read Wildest of All by P.K Lynch and it looks exactly my kind of book. Fortunately, I do have an extract to share today on Linda’s Book Bag from the very beginning of the book and I am able offer a paperback copy of Wildest of All to one lucky UK reader in a giveaway at the bottom of this blog post.
Published by Legend Press on 1st September 2017, Wildest of All is available for purchase here.
Wildest of All
The Donnelly family are a tight-knit bunch, but when one of their own dies without warning, the mother, the daughter-in-law, and the daughter, despite being united in grief, are each sent hurtling in wildly different directions.
From the churches of Glasgow to the nightclubs of London, can they find their way back to each other before it’s too late? And in the wake of a parent’s death, who exactly is responsible for looking after whom?
An Extract from Wildest of All
They called her Sissy because her red hair made them think of the actress in that movie they’d both loved where pretty much the whole town winds up dead. But names are a big deal in Catholic families, so it was agreed the birth certificate should say Cecilia. That way, Anne could tell everyone that her first granddaughter was named after the patron saint of music. Everyone was happy. No one anticipated any problems.
Of course, the baby didn’t have much of a say in anything, though she became very clear she preferred Sissy to Cecilia, no matter what the kids in the playground had to say about it. Despite the shock of the first grandchild being born out of wedlock, Anne took comfort from the fact that Sissy’s arrival was sure to bring Peter back to his senses. He’d return to the law, and in time she was sure Peter and Jude would marry. The baby, like all babies, was a marvellous opportunity to put everything back on track.
But seventeen years later, none of that had come to pass, and now the family were gathered in Peter’s hallway awaiting the arrival of the cars for his funeral. His sister, Susan, had travelled from Manchester with her three boisterous sons and unfaithful husband, from whom she would never be parted, because that is the Catholic way. His brother, Danny, was there with his two well-behaved daughters, but not their mother because she – the vixen – had left him, and although Lauren had wanted to attend the funeral, Danny had forbidden it because you don’t get to pick and choose your loyalties; you’re either with the Donnellys or you’re not, and if you’re not, then you might as well be against them.
The assembled family looked to the top of the stairs where Sissy stood, wearing a dress for a thirteen-year-old child that she’d found in M&S a couple of days previously. Her dad would have laughed at that. On her feet were a pair of navy blue cowboy boots he’d brought back from a tour around the States. He’d made a mistake with the sizes and bought a couple of sizes too large.
‘You’re not wearing those, are you?’ said Anne, as Sissy clumped down the stairs, fascinated by the strangeness of her own feet. When she reached the bottom, she smiled widely and clicked her heels together: there’s no place like home there’s no place like home there’s no place like home. Nobody laughed, but Lucy, who was the youngest of Danny’s girls, gave a watery smile and whispered to her that they were awesome.
Danny leaned over and kissed Lucy on the head. ‘Good girl,’ he said, and Sissy experienced it as a stab to the heart. No more daddy kisses for her. She searched for her mother and found her leaning against the wall behind Grammy. Red-eyed and vacant, Jude was no longer the mother she’d always known. It remained to be seen who she was now, indeed, who they were, and what they would become together.
‘The cars are here,’ said Susan, from her look-out post at the living room window. A barely perceptible pause followed, then Danny said, ‘Right. Everyone move out.’ The front door opened and everyone began to shuffle out. The three youngest cousins darted through the grown-ups, desperate for exercise.
‘Wait,’ said Susan, catching Sissy by the arm. She brought her into the downstairs bathroom. Taking the corner of the hand towel, she soaked it, squeezed it, and wiped Sissy’s face. Then she reached into her handbag and retrieved a comb with which she teased out the tangles in Sissy’s hair and twisted it into a low ponytail.
‘It’ll be windy at the cemetery,’ Susan said.
How clever she is to know that, Sissy thought.
‘And here,’ said Susan, pulling out a pair of tights from her bag. ‘Your feet’ll get sore in those boots otherwise.’
Susan knelt down and tapped on Sissy’s knee, triggering a long forgotten morning routine. Sissy raised first one foot and then the other to allow Susan to pull her boots off.
‘Right,’ said Susan, running her fingers down the leg of the tights and stretching out the foot. Sissy wiggled her toes into the little cave Susan had created. So many times she had done this with Jude, holding onto her head to keep balanced, always forgetting her mother preferred her to use her shoulders.
But today Sissy held onto the sink for balance, and studied her aunt’s head, which she didn’t think she’d seen from this angle before. Susan’s roots were an inch long and greying. Something about this moved Sissy. She felt sorry for her aunt who’d be seeing absolutely everyone in the whole extended family today. It was the sort of day you’d normally want to make an effort for.
Three stretch limousines carried them to the church because Anne said it had to be done properly. Even among the principal mourners there was a hierarchy: Sissy and Jude travelled in the first car, Anne, Danny and Susan in the second, and all five cousins in the car behind, with Susan’s husband their reluctant chaperone.
Sissy and Jude took a window seat each. Jude wondered later if perhaps it was the car being so big that put all that space between them. And perhaps it was Anne’s tiny stature that made Susan and Danny sit so close, as though their presence was required merely to keep the old lady propped up. And Susan’s husband, Phillip, stared at his phone the whole way, while the eldest girls, Lucy and Emma, kept his three boys entertained with a series of games ranging from I Spy to Yellow Car Touch in an effort to keep them calm.
‘There’s glasses in here!’ shrieked the youngest, Andrew, having pressed a button to reveal a drinks cabinet hidden in the door. Lucy and Emma shared a look, a silent agreement to tolerate this now, but tell all to their dad afterwards about how inappropriate the boys had been in the funeral car, knowing already that Danny would nod, then shake his head, and say what else could you expect from boys as wild as they?
Jude had some pills from the doctor, one of which she had swallowed an hour before with one of her special teas, Earl Grey laced with vodka. Her journey to the church passed in a pleasant fuzz, although she was acutely aware of all the edges of her reality, and somewhat amused by the expanding hole at the centre of her which seemed to creep closer and closer to the boundary of her existence. She deliberately let her right arm trail into the centre of the back seat in case Sissy needed something to hold onto. She would always be there for Sissy.
Sissy was the most important thing. For Sissy, her hand would always be open, lying between them like a half-built bridge.
About P.K. Lynch
Pauline Lynch trained as an actor and her first professional job was playing Lizzie in the film of Irvine Welsh’s novel, Trainspotting.
After having a baby, P.K. completed her first stage play, Promise. Her second play, King of the Gypsies, played at the Edinburgh fringe, and then toured.
She then enrolled on the MLitt Creative Writing programme at Glasgow University where Armadillos was awarded the Sceptre Prize for Fiction.
There’s more with these other bloggers too:
Uk Paperback Giveaway of Wildest of All by P.K Lynch
UK only I’m afraid, but thanks to the lovely folk at Legend Press I have a paperback copy of Wildest of All by P.K Lynch to giveaway. To enter, just click here. Giveaway closes UK midnight on Sunday 24th September 2017.