I’m really delighted today to be launching the blog tour for the wonderful new book by Jane Cable, Another You, published on 13th December by Endeavour Press. I was an immense fan of The Cheesemaker’s House with its touch of Yorkshire magic (you’ll find my review here), and loved The Faerie Tree even more (review and guest post here). It was such wonderful news that Endeavour Press were publishing her latest – and I really think it’s her best yet. Here’s the story:
Sometimes the hardest person to save is yourself…
Marie Johnson is trapped by her job as a chef in a Dorset pub and by her increasingly poisonous marriage to its landlord. Worn down by his string of affairs she has no self-confidence, no self-respect and the only thing that keeps her going is watching her son, Jude, turn into a talented artist.
But the 60th anniversary of a D-Day exercise triggers chance meetings which prove unlikely catalysts for change.
First there’s Corbin, the American soldier who she runs into as she’s walking on the cliffs. He is charming and has a quaintness about him, calling her an ‘English rose’.
Then there’s George the war veteran, who comes to dine at the pub, and his son Mark. George fascinates Marie with his first-hand accounts of the war, whilst Mark proves helpful in making sense of the pub’s financial situation.
And there’s Paxton. Another American soldier with an uncanny resemblance to Corbin. Young, fit and very attractive, Marie finds him hard to resist. But little does she know Paxton is also battling some inner demons.
As the heat of the summer intensifies, so do the issues in Marie’s life.
Why is Corbin so elusive? Why is the pub struggling to make ends meet? Why has Jude suddenly become so withdrawn and unhappy? Can she help Paxton open up and begin to deal with his pain? Or will she be shackled to the pub and her increasingly spiteful husband forever?
But as events unfold, Marie finally realises that she is not trapped, but stuck, and that it is down to her to get her life moving again.
Perfectly blending the complexities of twenty-first century life with the dramatic history of World War Two, Another You is a charming tale that will warm your heart.
I have an extract for you, and a chance to win an e-copy (with thanks to Jane and Endeavour Press), but first… my review.
When I reviewed The Faerie Tree, I mentioned the author’s perfect handling of the emotional content – and this time, her touch is even more assured. Marie’s toxic relationship with her husband really hurts you as you read – every barbed comment, every moment he shows her total disrespect, every spiteful put down, every sign that the love has long gone. By contrast, her relationship with artist son Jude makes your heart glow – and when things between them go a little wrong after a moment of carelessness, that hurts too. Marie is eminently likeable, even if she (just sometimes) lacks a bit of insight into how others feel – and when she meets Paxton, at first you really hope it might turn into something rather more than a simple fling. But none of the relationships in this book progress smoothly – Paxton has his depths and issues, then there’s the elusiveness of the lovely Corbin, and the misunderstandings behind many of her interactions with Mark. When life’s progress is so dreadfully rocky, it’s no surprise that Marie suffers with crippling migraines – or that the beach hut becomes a welcome refuge.
There was nothing I didn’t like about this book. The setting is vividly drawn – the landscape of Studland Bay (where I could smell the bacon frying in the beach hut, and picture the dunes and vertiginous cliffs…) and the pub itself, a home, a business and something of a prison. I loved the background story of the D-Day exercise – and the touch of magic surrounding it – and was enchanted by the links with the vanishing seahorses, and the mystery around the necklace.
It’s an excellent story, so well told – there’s romance and high drama, and an emotional complexity that makes it a really satisfying read. Every character, no matter how peripheral to the story, is perfectly drawn – and all the dialogue totally authentic and natural. And I even enjoyed the food – the challenges of running a busy pub kitchen, the putting together of a menu, the preparing of the meals, the joy and the bone-crushing tedium. A really superb read… and I really must mention too the quite beautiful cover, perfectly capturing the story.
Fancy winning an e-copy of Another You? Here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
(The winner will be announced on Twitter, on the Being Anne Facebook page, and contacted by email, and a reply will be needed within three days. If not, the prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be drawn. )
And here’s a perfect taster…
By the time the path levels out the sweat is pooling on my back beneath my waterproof but the breeze is a fraction too chill for me to take it off. Clouds skate across the horizon and sheep call from the fields which edge the strip of downland topping the cliffs. One stands patiently in the corner, two lambs at her teats. The pain and joy of motherhood – and for what? For a moment I wonder how I’ll ever handle meat again. Imagine, telling Stephen I’d become a vegetarian. Imagine the look on his face. Up here I almost feel brave enough to do it.
I settle myself on my favourite bench. Studland Bay is like glass. A gull swoops below me, sunlight glinting off its wings. I’d like wings. I close my eyes and imagine them stirring under my chef’s whites, feathers chafing my skin. Restless to break loose and fly. I must read Jonathan Livingston Seagull again.
“Excuse me, ma’am, but did you drop this?”
My head jerks up. Light invades my eyes and I see only the American’s silhouette, his arm outstretched.
“It’s so pretty; I wouldn’t have wanted you to lose it.”
I hold out my hand and he drops something small and cool into it. A tiny silver seahorse, just half an inch long, with a loop attached to its head. I can almost see the chain breaking, the charm sliding off. I look at him, shielding my eyes with my other hand.
“It is pretty – but it’s not mine.”
A line appears across his brow. He is older than Jude, younger than me. Early thirties perhaps? His face is tanned, his neck muscular, his eyes invisible behind vintage aviators.
“Should I take it to the police station?” he asks.
I shake my head. “They’ll just file it away somewhere. Tell you what, I’ll put up notices in the pub and the car park. Whoever lost it is more likely to see them there.”
“The owner won’t mind?”
“The landlord’s my…” Why don’t I want to admit to it? “It’ll be ok. I work there. In the kitchen.”
“Thank you, ma’am.”
God, that makes me feel ancient. “It’s not ma’am – it’s Marie.”
He shifts his stance, almost smiles. “So how did an English rose come by a French name?”
I feel the colour rising up my neck. “It’s not French, it’s just different.”
“Well what do you know? My folks wanted me to be different too so they named me Corbin. Corbin’s where my granddaddy Summerhayes had his farm before the town was even built.”
“And where’s that?”
He all but stands to attention. “Kentucky. In the good old United States of America.”
I gaze down at the pendant in my hand. “And do you have seahorses there?”
“Oh my, Marie,” he laughs. “We don’t even have an ocean to put them in.”
“Then I’ll take especially good care of this one,” I promise as I tuck it into my pocket then set off down the path. As I descend towards the village the thunder in my head begins again.
About the author
Jane Cable is a writer of romantic fiction with a twist of suspense. Her first novel, The Cheesemaker’s House, was a finalist in the Alan Titchmarsh Show People’s Novelist competition and winner of Words for the Wounded’s independent novel of the year award in 2015. As a direct result of this Jane was signed by The Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency and within a year Endeavour Press acquired her third novel, Another You.
Although born in Cardiff, Jane splits her time between Chichester and Cornwall. She is married, loves cricket, and doesn’t have enough time to read.