I’m an immense admirer of Honno Welsh Women’s Press, and really want to read every book they publish – but I sadly just couldn’t fit in The House With Old Furniture by Helen Lewis, published on 20th July, available direct from the publisher or from Amazon in the UK and US. But I’m joining the blog tour today with absolute confidence that you’ll be seeing great reviews elsewhere – I just love the description…
The ghosts of a century’s worth of secrets and betrayals are coming home to Pengarrow…
Evie has lost her eldest son, Jesse, to gang violence. Leaving the house he grew up in is pulling apart the few strings left holding her heart together. Only the desire to be there for her younger boy, Finn, impels Evie to West Wales and the ancient house her husband is sure will heal their wounds.
Days later, Andrew is gone – rushing back to his ‘important’ job in government, abandoning his grieving wife and son. Finn finds solace in the horse his father buys by way of apology. As does his evasive and fearful new friend, Nye, the one who reminds him and Evie of Jesse… Evie loses herself in a dusty 19th century journal and glasses of homemade wine left by the mysterious housekeeper.
As Evie’s grasp on reality slides, Andrew’s parents ride to the rescue. It is clear that this is a house they know. They seem to think they own it, and begin making changes nobody wants, least of all Alys and her son, Nye, the terrified youth who looks so like Jesse.
In the absence of a review, I’m delighted to welcome author Helen Lewis to Being Anne, talking about changing teams…
Genre – weird word – struggle to say it without putting on a ‘Miranda Hart’ voice, you know the one she uses when she says the word ‘plunge’? And why, I wonder, does saying the word genre always send me and my imagination straight to the centre of a slightly cheesey-gym-smelling sci-fi convention?
It’s a word that has never really ventured into my life until, that is, these last few heady pre-publication months. I have almost lost count of the questionnaires and interviews that I have had to write, post and perform where GENRE hasn’t sat there, top of the pile smiling at me. What is my genre, what genre do I like to writing in, and I know I sound like a cretin, but I don’t know? I write stories I answer, but about what these publishy people reply? And then I’m stuck. Truth is I don’t like pigeon holes, or team colours, I don’t want to be the woman in Pembrokeshire that writes bodice-rippers, not that there’s anything wrong with writing a bodice-rippers I might quite like to, but then I might quite like a shot at a Doctor Who episode. If writing were a restaurant, I’d be at the all-you-can-eat-international-buffet, I’ll give anything a try. Ok, I hear you muttering, Jack of all trades, master of none…
I would say The House With Old Furniture, my debut novel, is a ghost story, I think that’s the shelf I would pop it on. The Bookseller magazine did, and made it Editor’s choice for July (thanking you very much Bookseller Editor). But I didn’t set out to write a ghost story. From somewhere I’m not quite certain of, a woman’s story of grief and madness and sadness began to bubble and over the top of that I could hear the voice of eleven-year-old Finn trying to prop up life and stick it back on the right track. And in the quiet times, the pauses, humming in the background, Alys and Nana performed a little duet.
We all lived together in my head for far too long, nearly five years. Don’t get me wrong, I love my characters, I love what they’ve played out on paper and I want to drive to Pengarrow right now and take Finn in and raise him as my own, but love them as I do, I’ve been toying with the idea of a mini-break somewhere completely different. And I think I might have found my ‘completely different’ place.
Since proofing the very last comma and full-stop of The House With Old Furniture I’ve made like a marathon runner, I’ve taken the ice bath, had a cheeky glass of celebration Prosecco and sat back to watched my novel fledge. Now as I pick up my pen and click a few keys I’ve got this new person chatting away inside my head, she’s quite funny, she makes me laugh. I’ve listened to a few of the scrapes she’s been in, and been introduced to some of her family. I like them. I like the place they live in, I’m thinking I might stay here for a while (hopefully not five years though).
Which shelf would I put this new friend on? The humorous one looks a good fit at the moment. I like this new place, I feel like I’ve emigrated, changed teams, swapped shirts. I’m just hoping this new place isn’t haunted.
Thank you Helen – I’ll look forward to visiting your “new place”, and catching up with The House With Old Furniture…
Fancy winning a copy? With thanks to Helen, her publishers Honno, and tour organiser Brook Cottage Books there are 3 ebooks available (open internationally) and 3 paperbacks (UK only). Here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
About the author
Helen was born in 1967 in the New Forest. She spent her childhood dreaming of becoming a ballerina and doodling in the margin. She graduated from Southampton Faculty of Art and Design (so long ago now, that the place doesn’t even exist!) and worked as a professional Doodler of Margins (Graphic Designer) for twenty years. In 2006 she moved to Pembrokeshire with her family and lives in the middle of nowhere where she reads, writes, and runs.