The Old Girls’ Network by Judy Leigh: A funny, feel-good read for summer 2020
English | 2020 | General Fiction| ePUB | 2.8 MB
Judy Leigh has lived all over the UK from Liverpool to Cornwall, but currently resides in Somerset. After teaching theatre, writing lyrics for a punk band and setting up Shakespeare Festivals, she completed an MA in Professional Writing.
Is it ever too late to change…
After a health scare, 77 year-old spinster Barbara goes to convalesce in the sleepy Somerset village of Winsleigh Green with her sister Pauline, who is now a widow. The sisters are like chalk and cheese – Barbara, outspoken and aloof and Pauline, good natured and homely – so it’s not long before the tension starts to rise.
But when Pauline accidentally knocks down a vagrant who goes by the name of Bisto Mulligan, the ladies find themselves with another houseguest. As he recovers, it becomes apparent that Bisto is not who he first seemed, and as the sisters get to know the kind and courageous man he really is, it’s clear Bisto has the potential to change both of their lives.
As the spring turns to summer, and Winsleigh Green comes to life, can the three friends make the changes they need to, to embrace fresh starts, new loves, new lives and new horizons. Or do old habits die too hard?
Barbara thought she must be dead. She could remember exactly what had happened, right up to the last second. She was rushing up the path to the little terraced house, fixing her sights on the familiar green door, number eighty-six. Then she recalled feeling strange, a little bit as if she had floated above her own head for a moment, or was hovering outside her body. She wobbled, the dizziness a thick haze behind her eyes as she stared at the smooth paint of the front door, leaning forward to steady herself. Then she slipped. The earth fell away, the sky turned upside down, and the air seemed to whirl from within her, emptying her lungs.
Dying wasn’t as painful as she’d imagined it would be, and she didn’t feel the bump when the back of her head hit the stone step as she toppled down three more to the ground. Dying was surprisingly easy, in fact: it was just the regret she felt, the sense of missed opportunities, as she tumbled. Her eyes rolled back in her head and that was it. She’d had a fairly long life, but she hadn’t done nearly enough with it. She was glad that she’d served for most of her working life as a secretary in the Air Force. She was proud of the order and rigour she’d brought to the job. And she’d never broken the law or been in debt. Barbara’s life had been exemplary. Spotless even. But it had all been a bit dull, that was the problem. She’d never behaved badly enough. She’d seldom taken risks. She had never really let go, danced on tables, shouted from the depths of her lungs in quiet libraries. She’d never taken life by the throat, flirted with danger, or even flirted with men. She was a spinster, for goodness sake. But at least she wasn’t a virgin. That would have been too hard to bear at the final gasp.
Of course, Barbara knew that, had she lived, she’d never have become a wild party animal; she wouldn’t have become the centre of attention, the admired ringleader – she wouldn’t even have been very popular. So what was her biggest regret? She had no family of her own now, no one except her sister. In a flash, like her life tumbling before her eyes, Barbara knew she hadn’t been a good sibling: she’d never really defended Pauline, looked out for her or even spent quality time with her. She wasn’t sure she even liked her very much. Perhaps that was her biggest regret. But it was too late now that she was dead. Death would be a great disappointment, though. She wasn’t ready to go yet, and she’d only just realised it.