An Extract from Nothing Else by Louise Beech

It’s a few days longer than a year since I reviewed Louise Beech’s This Is How We Are Human in a post you can find here. I so love Louise’s writing that when I was invited to participate in the blog tour for Louise’s latest book Nothing Else, I simply had to participate. My enormous thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part. I’m thrilled to have Nothing Else on my TBR.

Louise’s Call Me Star Girl was one of my 2019 books of the year, and my review is here. You’ll also find my review of How To Be Brave here and of Maria in the Moon here.

Published by Orenda in paperback on 23rd June, Nothing Else is available for purchase here.

Nothing Else

Heather Harris is a piano teacher and professional musician, whose quiet life revolves around music, whose memories centre on a single song that haunts her. A song she longs to perform again. A song she wrote as a child, to drown out the violence in their home. A song she played with her little sister, Harriet.

But Harriet is gone … she disappeared when their parents died, and Heather never saw her again.

When Heather is offered an opportunity to play piano on a cruise ship, she leaps at the chance. She’ll read her recently released childhood care records by day – searching for clues to her sister’s disappearance – and play piano by night … coming to terms with the truth about a past she’s done everything to forget.

An exquisitely moving novel about surviving devastating trauma, about the unbreakable bond between sisters, Nothing Else is also a story of courage and love, and the power of music to transcend – and change – everything.

An Extract from Nothing Else

I dreamt of fire, my last night in the flat.

Brazen flames flickered and devoured everything around me; they crackled and snapped and then roared. There was music in the sound. Tempo. The sky blackened with billowing smoke. The air was thick with it. I couldn’t breathe and yet I couldn’t turn away.

Then I heard it. Music. Just behind me.

I turned. It was there, our cherry-coloured upright piano, sitting on the grass, grey ash raining down on the keyboard like tiny flying notes. She was there too. Harriet. Seated. Waiting for me. I joined her. We sat side by side, in the places we always took, me on the right and her on the left.

And we played.

Our song.

There was nothing else. The music swirled around us as wild as the flames, a physical force, a wave of love, a place of safety.

Then I woke, alone, my balcony doors wide open and the sounds of the harbour a cold reminder of where I really existed. I went to my piano in the dark and tried to evoke the full melody from my dream, but on my own the song was incomplete, a haunting tune without its ghostly accompaniment.

In the morning, a large brown envelope arrived in the early post. It was stamped with the local council logo. I knew what it must be – my care records – but there was no time to look now. I didn’t even know if I wanted to. Just holding the delivery my heart pulsed like a quaver followed by a quaver rest. It had arrived more quickly than I’d anticipated. Should I take it with me? Would reading what was inside it ruin my trip? Should I leave it here for when I returned?

I couldn’t decide, but I shoved it in my hand luggage anyway, and then left for the station.

I sat on a packed train for almost eight hours, stretching my legs and buying coffee when we changed at Sheffield and Birmingham New Street. Usually, I studied the other passengers when I travelled. I people-watched all the time, often creating their soundtrack in my head. An old man shuffling along might be a slow melody; a woman marching in crisp heels a faster beat; a running child joyful, her notes more random, jazzlike. But I couldn’t concentrate.

I kept thinking about the documents in my bag.

In the end, just after Birmingham, I took out the envelope and opened it. Inside was a black plastic folder; different pages were clipped together inside the cover – some handwritten, some typed, some official-looking, some yellowing. Everything was digital now, but back then, there were paper records. I slammed it shut, hands trembling.

Yes, I wanted to know what had happened to Harriet.

But that meant opening a door I had locked long ago.


Isn’t that just wonderful? If you haven’t yet discovered Louise’s writing you’re really missing out. She’s one of the most versatile and talented authors I’ve come across and I read an awful lot of books!

About Louise Beech

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Reader’s Choice in 2015. The sequel, The Mountain in My Shoe, was shortlisted for the Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her 2019 novel Call Me Star Girl won Best Magazine’s Book of the Year, and was followed by a ghost-story cum psychological thriller set in a theatre, I Am Dust

Louise  lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loved her job as Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

Follow Louise on Twitter @LouiseWriter, find her on Facebook and Instagram and visit her website for further information.

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