The Secret Hours by Santa Montefiore
English | 2019 | General Fiction | ePUB | 4.0 Mb
The Secret Hours : Let the wind take me and the soft rain settle me into the Irish soil from where I came. And may my sins be forgiven.’
Arethusa Clayton has always been formidable, used to getting her own way. On her death, she leaves unexpected instructions. Instead of being buried in America, on the wealthy East Coast where she and her late husband raised their two children, Arethusa has decreed that her ashes be scattered in a remote corner of Ireland, on the hills overlooking the sea. All Arethusa ever told Faye was that she grew up in a poor farming family and left Ireland, alone, to start a new life in America as did so many in those times of hardship and famine. But who were her family in Ireland and where are they now? What was the real reason that she turned away from them? And who is the mysterious benefactor of a significant share of Arethusa’s estate? Arethusa is gone. There is no one left to tell her story. Faye feels bereft, as if her mother’s whole family has died with her. Leaving her own husband and children behind, she travels to the picturesque village of Ballinakelly, determined to fulfil her mother’s last wish and to find out the reason for Arethusa’s insistence on being laid to rest in this faraway land.
“Now it is up to Logan, as executor of her will, to see that our mother’s wishes are carried out. It is up to Temperance and me to begin the laborious task of sorting out all her belongings. Her wardrobes of clothes and shoes and handbags, her jewellery boxes, make-up, toiletries and her desk of papers and library of books. Really, it is a daunting task and one I would rather hand over to somebody else, but there is no one else. Only the two of us, and, as the days go by, I feel we are getting nowhere. Mother clearly did not like to throw things away. What are we going to do with all this stuff?
There is one item which I find out of place among her things. It is an instrument that looks like a small violin, but the belly is round and the fretboard very long. Temperance gasps when she sees it and smiles with childish delight, as if she has just found a beloved old friend. ‘That, Miss Faye, is a banjo,’ she says, and her voice is full of wonder. Sensing she wants to hold it, I give it to her. She takes it with great care. Then she begins to play. Her fingers move deftly over the strings. I’m astonished. I didn’t know she could play the banjo. I listen as she sings. Her voice is low and soft like whiskey and cream, and all the while she sings she looks at me, the emotion in her eyes raw and tender. I’m enchanted. But I’m doubtful my mother ever knew how to play such a thing. It must have been an unwanted gift she never got round to throwing away.”