How to Make Time for Me by Fiona Perrin #BlogTour #Extract

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Welcome to my stop for How to Make Time for Me by Fiona Perrin. Thanks so much to Aria Fiction for the invitation to join this blog tour! I have an extract to share with you today but first check out how wonderful this novel sounds.

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No-one said being a single mum would be easy…

Everyone knows that being a single mother means having no time to yourself. But for Callie Brown, its more exhausting than most. She’s juggling the needs of three teenage children, two live-in parents, a raffish ex-husband, and a dog who never stops eating.

The last thing Callie needs is anything more on her plate. So when she bumps (quite literally) into a handsome, age-appropriate cyclist, she’s quick to dismiss him from her life. After all, if she doesn’t have time to brush her hair in the morning, she certainly doesn’t have time to fall in love…

Funny, heartwarming and oh-so-true, this is a novel about motherhood, families, and life after divorce, perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella and Allison Pearson.

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Author

Fiona Perrin author

Fiona Perrin was a journalist and copywriter before building a career as a sales and marketing director in industry. Having always written, she completed the Curtis Brown Creative Writing course before writing The Story After Us. Fiona grew up in Cornwall, hung out for a long time in London and then Hertfordshire, and now writes as often as possible from her study overlooking the sea at the end of The Lizard peninsula.

Connect

Twitter : @fionaperrin
fB : @fionajperrinauthor

Extract

‘But then I got together with Ralph and he already had Wilf and we were together until a couple of years back,’ I carried on eventually. ‘Ralph had a breakdown and became an alcoholic. He’s all right now though.’

‘You’ve been through a lot,’ Maura mused. ‘And you took on his boy?’ Her questions were gentle and distracting. She stood still now at the end of the bed and looked as if she really gave a fuck about my complicated family set-up.

‘I love him,’ I told her, and she just nodded.

‘Bet you’ve got olds to look out for too.’

I thought of Mum and Dad, who lived down the road, and stopped crying. ‘Just two extra children in their seventies. My mum is practically deaf now, poor her, and they’re both a bit strange.’ At least no in-laws that I was responsible for. That was a bonus. And Ralph no longer turned up on my doorstep broke/pissed/useless since he’d got better and married Petra. Somehow, she’d managed to keep him sober – a fact that she was very fond of passively aggressively pointing out to me, as if I still had feelings for her husband. I didn’t, I promise. And frankly, although I didn’t want him to return to his worst periods, she’d made him quite odd and boring now, like a robot in their beige home. I shook my head and concentrated on Maura.

‘What about you?’

‘I’ve got three kids, two grandchildren and three old ones,’ she said. I nodded – shit, thank God, no grandkids yet. But then she added, ‘In my house.’ She paused dramatically.  ‘Sometimes some of them go back to their own places.’ She joined in with my laughing, which dried up the tears.

‘It’s all the bloody washing,’ Maura carried on. She shushed with her finger and looked around her at the curtain, mock-worried about if anyone could hear her. ‘I’m not supposed to swear in front of patients, but you try putting up with this shit. The only good thing about it is getting out of that house.’ That old female joke – I come to work to have a rest. Maura carried on. ‘All that, “do you know where my rugby socks are”, and, “can I have a twenty to go out and get wankered?” And that’s from my husband.’ She winked once more but she’d set me off again – this time more tears with my laughing.

Maura did nothing to silence me, but she stepped forward to rub my shoulders again.

‘You let it out,’ was all she said. ‘Mrs Invisible? They didn’t have her in the superheroes movies.’

‘I’m no superhero,’ I said.

‘Sometimes it feels like you have to be, though, doesn’t it?’ Maura said. She sat down on the end of the bed. ‘Where do you work, hun?’

I told her about my unbelievably pointless job running the HR team of a small car-leasing company. Well, pointless apart from it being necessary as I was economically responsible for three teenagers, a dog and, quite often, my parents.

‘Here’s to having it all,’ whispered Maura. ‘What do you think of that, Mrs Invisible? Now, haven’t you got a new man?’ She then clearly remembered that she’d been on a course on how to be more liberal because she hastily added, ‘Or a woman? Or…’

‘No man,’ I said. ‘There just doesn’t seem to be any time.’ I knew this was an excuse. But now, faced with a choice of lying on the sofa guiltily reading Grazia or doing all the plucking, waxing and trying to remember how to flirt that went with going on a date, I’d choose the couch and celebrity gossip every time.

‘You must go out? Gorgeous woman like you.’ I smiled politely at the compliment. Not gorgeous. Not any more, although I was dimly aware of a time when I’d been attractive enough to have a steady stream of lovers and lover applicants. God, it felt so long ago.

Now I was a pale shadow of that confident, fun person.

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The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang #BookReview

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It’s high time for Stella Lane to settle down and find a husband – or so her mother tells her. This is no easy task for a wealthy, successful woman like Stella, who also happens to have Asperger’s. Analyzing data is easy; handling the awkwardness of one-on-one dates is hard. To overcome her lack of dating experience, Stella decides to hire a male escort to teach her how to be a good girlfriend.

Faced with mounting bills, Michael decides to use his good looks and charm to make extra cash on the side. He has a very firm no repeat customer policy, but he’s tempted to bend that rule when Stella approaches him with an unconventional proposal.

The more time they spend together, the harder Michael falls for this disarming woman with a beautiful mind, and Stella discovers that love defies logic.

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This is one of those novels that I’ve seen everywhere and heard so much of that I was compelled to find out for myself what it was all about. I read some of the reviews beforehand but I either have a very selective memory or they didn’t really share what a good portion of the book was about. Okay, it could be that readers found it pretty evident that a novel about a gigolo is a novel involving sex, and it is, but I definitely didn’t realise how much bedsport would be involved. Either way, it sure wasn’t this that interested me in the novel. I love attraction and teasing but once they start to show off and there’s too much action and not enough steam, then I’m out. So yes in the end this made me cut off a star, I’m sorry not sorry.

What really made me want to read The Kiss Quotiënt was when I heard it was a novel about a woman with autism who hadn’t had a meaningful relationship yet nor any happy moments in bed. I wanted to get to know her. It was her autism that fascinated me and I wondered how she would look at the world from her perspective.

At the start of the novel Stella’s mother is urging her to find a partner and make work of her first grandchild. Enter male escort Michael who’s of course the most divine creature and loveliest lad on earth and who’ll help her to get her next date back wanting more.

I liked that the roles were reversed and even enjoyed knowing where the story was going. It’s not very surprising but I didn’t mind at all as I wanted a romantic story. What did stick out as a sore thumb however was that her autism was highlighted in her interactions with her parents, and with Michael’s family and friends, but between them there’s never any issue safe for an occasional unintended blip, meaning before he knows she has autism. Once he does, everything runs peachy perfect. A little too perfect for me though that a complete stranger understands her so well that her autism seems to almost disappear and it’s just a normal love story. I just don’t think it’s as simple as that.

I have to keep in mind though that this is not a psychological study and want it to be more than it is, it is a love story between two unlikely characters who happen to develop feelings for one another and the writer did make it an entertaining story. I loved the warm family feeling of Michael’s side, I loved the professions the characters were attributed and how they seem so perfect for them, Stella is an econometrist and Michael works in his family’s drycleaner and tailor’s shop, and even though the story isn’t really exceptional, it’s still sweet and lovely and I’m sure lots of readers will swoon over Michael. A perfect novel for some summery escapism.

I won a copy of this novel via a blogger’s giveaway. This is my honest opinion.

Living My Best Life by Claire Frost #BookReview

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Bell never thought she’d be facing her 40th birthday single. Recently dumped by her boyfriend of ten years, Bell is struggling to move on with her life – and surrender the fleecy pyjamas she’s been living in since January. Sick of being bombarded by #blessed on social media and feeling like her life doesn’t live up to everyone else’s, she decides it’s time for a change; time to find out who she really is, not who she thinks she should be.

Enter Millie, a successful online influencer posting under the handle @mi_bestlife. But as a single mum trying to make ends meet and stay ahead of the younger generation snapping at her heels, her Instagram feed is far more #BestLiethan #BestLife. With the internet trolls continuing to bring her down and an ex who cares more about playing football than seeing their son, Millie begins to wish her life was more like her filters.

It isn’t until Millie and Bell’s paths cross that the two women begin to realise what they’re missing. Will Bell finally learn to live life for herself? And will Millie see that she needs to start living for the moment and not for the likes?

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I was immediately interested in this novel when I read the title and I was even more convinced I was going to relate to the characters really well when I read the blurb. Bell and Millie are a bit older than usual – Bell’s next birthday is going to be the big 4-0 and Millie is in her early thirties – and I was happy to find they were fun but also responsible, mature women who happened to fall more into my age range. Bell and Millie are also both single, independent women with some emotional/relationship baggage already and some of it will certainly be recognizable to readers who are single after a long relationship and/or have had a break-up and are now a single parent. They are such normal and warm characters that I’d also love to have a Bell and a Millie and Wolf in my life myself after finishing my read. As much as I liked Bell and Millie though, it was little Wolfie who was definitely my favorite one, he just steals your heart away with his adorableness.

As I said, the title alone was enough to pique my interest. I might have expected it to be focusing on the lying more because I’m kind of used to it when reading my thrillers that people are pretending and putting on a mask, usually ending up being caught in a lie they can’t get out of it anymore. The people in this novel are smarter though, there’s no malicious intent and they are good characters, and lucky for them they have a friend who has their back and isn’t afraid to speak their mind. Overall it just really is a feel good book. There is of course some drama but it’s minor and if you need a novel to give you some pep, that is light-hearted and upbeat then this one’s a great choice.

Living My Best Li(f)e is a novel about warm friendships and a feeling of togetherness and community spirit, people working together towards a mutual goal. A few of the other characters in the novel seemed great too but I didn’t feel I really got to know them as well as I wanted, especially Ben and Suze would have been interesting to see more from. The storyline was rather predictable and I did miss some extra twists here and there to make it really stand out but I enjoyed the messages I could read between the linesI’ll let you discover them for yourself but I think one of them is pretty obvious in regards to social media. This novel contains a beautiful message to be more truthful to yourself as well as to others. It’s time to be happy with life as it is and not camouflage it to make it seem better just to get a few more likes. 

I received a free copy of this novel from Books and The City in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary #BookReview

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Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

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I really don’t read these kind of novels often enough, I forgot how much fun they are! The Flatshare is a perfect novel to lift your mood and I couldn’t think of a better timing.

The main characters are Leon, Leon’s brother Richie and Tiffy. Leon is an introvert and might come across a bit awkward at first. At least I had to get a little used to him and his use of stocky sentences but I either got used to it or he changed gradually while I wasn’t aware because that all fell away at some point and I can’t even pinpoint where it happened exactly. As for Tiffy, she’s the opposite really of Leon, extraverted, full of energy, sociable and she has a bit of a special taste in clothes and furniture. Her idea of decorating a place is a lava lamp and a bean bag :-).

Their agreement to live together without ever being in the apartment at the same time was original and I was impressed how well it was organised, it really works and they never meet. How to get them to interact then? Well the author opened up their communication with a single little post-it note. Soon enough I was reading their exchanges like they were sparring in a game of ping-pong and the further along the more they share with each other and the more personal it gets. I loved how they were their true selves in the notes, how they open up to each other. They are attentive and interested, they get to know each other really well and so was I, falling for both characters a little more as I went along. What I really wanted then was for them to finally meet and then preferably to fall deeply in love at first sight. The anticipation of that moment of meeting one another was excruciating! It was bound to happen but how and when? Well I won’t say much about it but the moment was golden! Oh my lord, their moment made me grin from ear to ear.

I felt it was all quite romantic even if the messages didn’t even contain romance, I just quite enjoyed the old-fashioned way of writing to each other and I felt their connection. Leon and Tiffy were also both very likeable characters that I enjoyed reading about. I’m not going to talk about the one person who made my toes curl or the hurdles they also faced in the novel, because overall it’s a feel-good novel that will put a smile on your face.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Where The Light Gets In by Lucy Dillon #BookReview

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‘You know those cracks in your heart, Lorna, where things didn’t work out, but you picked yourself up and carried on? That’s where the fear gets out. And where the light gets in.’

It was Betty, defiant to the end, who sent Lorna back to Longhampton. If Lorna’s learned one thing from Betty it’s that courage is something you paint on like red lipstick, even when you’re panicking inside. And right now, with the keys to the town’s gallery in her hand, Lorna feels about as courageous as Betty’s anxious little dachshund, trembling beside her.

Lorna’s come home to Longhampton to fulfil a long-held dream, but she knows, deep down, there are ghosts she needs to lay to rest first. This is where her tight-knit family shattered into silent pieces. It’s where her unspoken fears about herself took root and where her own secret, complicated love began. It’s not exactly a fresh start.

But as Lorna – and the little dog – tentatively open their cracked hearts to old friends and new ones, facing hard truths and fresh promises, something surprisingly beautiful begins to grow around the gallery, something so inspirational even Lorna couldn’t have predicted the light it lets into her world . . .

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I was drawn to this novel because of the beautiful cover at first. When the sunlight catches these golden butterflies and that little dachshund on the cover, it’s just so gorgeous, I can’t seem to stop playing with the light and the cover :-). It’s definitely one of the prettiest covers I have in my library now and if you want to buy this novel, you really should think about getting the hardback as it has adorable little dachshund images all over the front and back book flaps.

The dog – I can even say dogs because there are two of them – in this novel were the second thing that made me want to read this. It is no wonder really that I loved Rudy – a small over-anxious dachshund – and Bernard – a very energetic border terrier – to pieces but it became much more than loving the dogs. I quicky became quite attached to this little group of people, where each new character was introduced and added with the right amount of timing and delicate writing. It was heart-warming to see how they all came together. It started with Tiffany, Lorna’s friend that she didn’t see for so long, then a niece and her sister and even Joyce who was so reluctant to let anyone in at first (literally and figuratively). In the end though they become a tightly knitted group (ha! they happen to really knit and this is in fact the most celebrated artform in the novel even though Lorna opens an art gallery with paintings, jewellery, pottery and such).

The only thing I wasn’t totally convinced about was the romantic angle in this novel. I didn’t feel IT for either of the two gentlemen in the novel that came into Lorna’s orbit. The focus wasn’t very much on the development of a romance though so it wasn’t really a problem but maybe they could have been more loveable or something. As it was presented, I wouldn’t really give them a moment’s thought :-).

Overall I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed Where The Light Gets and how it filled my heart reading it. The novel was both heart-breaking and uplifting with multiple lovely friendships. In the end I really wished I didn’t have to say goodbye to these characters, I actually missed them when I closed the book and they seem to live on outside of this novel, that’s how real it felt. It has a beautiful ending that made me a bit emotional as well. I never thought I would be so touched but it made me smile through my tears. I did read one other novel by Lucy Dillon before which was a good read but it definitely doesn’t compare to this one. I can highly recommend if you like a heartwarming read!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher, Bantam Press an imprimt of Transworld Publishers, in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts #BookReview

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The Plus One [n] informal a person who accompanies an invited person to a wedding or a reminder of being single, alone and absolutely plus none

Polly’s not looking for ‘the one’, just the plus one…
Polly Spencer is fine. She’s single, turning thirty and only managed to have sex twice last year (both times with a Swedish banker called Fred), but seriously, she’s fine. Even if she’s still stuck at Posh! magazine writing about royal babies and the chances of finding a plus one to her best friend’s summer wedding are looking worryingly slim.

But it’s a New Year, a new leaf and all that. Polly’s determined that over the next 365 days she’ll remember to shave her legs, drink less wine and generally get her s**t together. Her latest piece is on the infamous Jasper, Marquess of Milton, undoubtedly neither a plus one nor ‘the one’. She’s heard the stories, there’s no way she’ll succumb to his charms…

amazon uk amazon com

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star three and a half

This is a perfect summer read to ‘put your feet up and relax’. The Plus One has a high Bridget Jones vibe although Polly is a much cooler and fun person than Bridget and she’s certainly not as clumsy and insecure, so I think I actually like her a whole lot more!

She doesn’t have the most interesting job at a magazine called Posh! but I must say it did make for some very entertaining reading. Her job includes writing articles about the new IT-dog (because the rich have an obsession for horses, and dogs come a close second), finding baby scans so they know who the little ones can become friends with when born, to being sent to places she’d normally never go for the best scoop… like interviewing the new singleton marquess at his parent’s castle, or attending ‘special and top secret’ parties frequented by people of the high classes.

It is going to sound very weird coming from me ‘of all people’ because you must know how I feel about explicit sexual scenes in novels by now. To recap: knowing they’re in there is enough reason for me not to read a novel BUT in The Plus One they were actually one of my favorite parts. Why? Well I’m not sure I can explain this very well, it’s not that they were superhot, they were actually quite the opposite of the usually perfectly orchestrated ‘we end up in bed and suddenly all clothes are off without any mention of the inevitable bra hook problem’ and the ‘everyone’s conveniently bathed and shaved while sex was not to be expected’. It’s more that everything that could go wrong, really went wrong there and I believe that’s actually why I enjoyed them so much. The Plus One isn’t full of fairytales… although now that I think of it, the book does include a castle, a sheikh, a gold bath, bidet and loo seat… but at least in the bedroom department, when it comes down to it, it was hilarious and brutally honest :-). The many struggles and thoughts flashing through Polly’s head were super funny and made me snort OUT LOUD. Yep, damn this book.

“I always get nervous with these conversations about what one is into versus what one is absolutely not into. Like when a man asks ‘What is your fantasy?’ and you want to say ‘A film on the sofa and a grab bag of Maltesers’, but you have to think up some implausible positions and say you like dressing up as a naughty optician because that’s what you think they want to hear.”

I think you get the idea what type of novel it is :-). If you read this you’re bound to get along with and root for Polly. Now there is a very serious health issue in this novel as well which makes it sometimes a bit more serious but overall this is just a fun chicklit novel that will transport you to a whole other world. I came to realise that even the rich and famous don’t have the perfect lives and you can find sleazebags in every layer of society :-). I was a fan of the colorful cast in the novel, her gay roommate Joe, best friend Lex, colleagues Lala and Legs, old friend Bill, but I would have liked to see their own lives more in detail too and missed a bit more intrigue and drama perhaps. The ending left me completely satisfied though, I saw what was coming but was very happy the way it ended.

I received a free paperback copy from the publisher, HQ, in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Distance by Zoë Folbigg #BlogTour #Extract

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Welcome to my turn on the blog tour for The Distance by Zoë Folbigg. My thanks also to Melanie Price and publisher Aria for the opportunity to be part of the tour.

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From the author of the bestselling novel, The Note, comes this beautiful, romantic tale of finding love in the most unexpected places.

Under the midnight sun of Arctic Norway, Cecilie Wiig goes online and stumbles across Hector Herrera in a band fan forum. They start chatting and soon realise they might be more than kindred spirits. But there are two big problems: Hector lives 8,909km away in Mexico. And he’s about to get married.

Can Cecilie, who’s anchored to two jobs she loves in the library and a cafe full of colourful characters in the town in which she grew up, overcome the hurdles of having fallen for someone she’s never met? Will Hector escape his turbulent past and the temptations of his hectic hedonistic life and make a leap of faith to change the path he’s on?

Zoe Folbigg’s latest novel is a story of two people, living two very different lives, and whether they can cross a gulf, ocean, sea and fjord to give their love a chance.

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Extract

One
March 2018, Tromsø, Norway

So, ro, lilleman, nå er dagen overSleep tight, little one, now the day is over… Cecilie can’t stop the blasted lullaby from spinning around her head, twinkling like a hanging mobile doing revolutions above a sleeping baby. Alle mus i alle land, ligger nå og sover… The song is rotating calmly and methodically in Cecilie’s brain, distracting her from the couple sitting in front of her as they wait for her to take their order. It is also distancing her from The Thing That’s Happening Today that she’s been dreading for weeks, hoping someone will put a stop to it or change their mind.

The lullaby must have been swirling in Cecilie’s head since she sang it in a quiet corner of the library this morning; to mothers with grey crescent moons clinging to their lower lashlines; to fathers, over the moon to be enjoying their parental leave in a much more relaxed way than they think their partners did. Mothers and fathers and gurglers, all joined in with Cecilie to sing nursery rhymes in the basement of the library, but now those songs and the sweet and happy voices are taunting her.

So, ro, lilleman…

Cecilie thinks of the large print above the fireplace in the living room at home. The room is an elegant haven of greys, browns and whites, dominated by a long, wooden dining table that stands out against the modern touches of the alternate grey and sable plastic Vitra chairs around it. It’s a table where everyone is welcome for heart-to-hearts and hygge at Christmas, although most of the time Cecilie eats breakfast there alone. She likes the grey chairs best and always chooses to sit on one of those while she eats her soda bread smeared with honey and stares out of the window, to the vast and sparse garden beyond. On the white wall above the fireplace hangs a print of a static Alexander Calder mobile that her mother Karin picked up on a trip to London.

‘Isn’t it wonderful, Cecilie?’ she exclaimed, her blue eyes lighting up against the silver of her bobbed hair, as Cecilie’s brother and his boyfriend lifted the black matt frame onto the mantelpiece with a heave.

‘Wonderful,’ concurred Morten, the partner of Cecilie’s twin brother Espen, as he pushed his glasses up his little snub nose. ‘The beauty and intelligence is astounding,’ he added. ‘I just wish I could see it in motion.’

Karin nodded with vigour; Espen had already left the room.

Cecilie looked at the print dreamily, her pale green eyes gazing up at the black Vertical Fern, while it didn’t oscillate as it had in the gallery, or might have done in a breeze. Still, Cecilie imagined herself, fluttering up to the largest of its black fronds to see what it would look like to gaze down at her mother and Morten’s faces from above. Cecilie had a knack for drifting out of position on a whim or a daydream, and seeing the world from above.

Karin, a pragmatist and a politician, found it hard to understand her otherworldly daughter.

‘Cecilie?’ Karin had urged.

Cecilie crinkled her nose and snapped back into the room with a blink.

‘It’s wonderful, Mamma,’ she agreed, although she couldn’t fathom why her mother had bought an inanimate print of something that ought to be in gentle movement. It seemed so unlike her. Karin Wiig was the least static person Cecilie knew.

‘Well yes,’ confirmed Karin with authority. ‘They were just so stunning, you really ought to go to London and see them in motion before the exhibition ends,’ she said with a wave of her hand, although everyone knew she was really only talking to Morten. Even if Espen had still been in the room to hear, he was too wrapped up in his life at the i-Scand hotel on the harbour to bother with the inconvenience of a weekend break, and Cecilie had never travelled to a latitude below Oslo, which was something a diplomat and an adventurer like Karin couldn’t understand.

‘Why is your sister so happy to stay in one place?’ she once asked Espen in despair.

‘Perhaps Cecilie’s daydreams take her to better places than a flight ever could, Mamma,’ Espen had replied.

So, ro, lilleman…

The flash of the frond in her mind awakens Cecilie and she wriggles her inert feet inside her black Dr Martens boots. The lullaby evaporates and disappears, and Cecilie is back with the couple sitting in front of her, at their usual table.

‘Pickle, are you all right?’ asks Gjertrud, her kindly weathered face looking up at Cecilie. ‘It’s just Ole asked you three times for the spiced Arctic cloudberry cake, but you seem a little… in the clouds yourself today, my dear.’

‘Oh, I’m so sorry, so much to think about…’ Cecilie replies, as she writes cloudberry onto a pad in a wisp of ink.

Author

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Zoë Folbigg is a magazine journalist and digital editor, starting at Cosmopolitan in 2001 and since freelancing for titles including Glamour, Fabulous, Daily Mail, Healthy, LOOK, Top Santé, Mother & Baby, ELLE, Sunday Times Style, and Style.com. In 2008 she had a weekly column in Fabulous magazine documenting her year-long round-the-world trip with ‘Train Man’ – a man she had met on her daily commute. She has since married Train Man and lives in Hertfordshire with him and their two young sons. She is the bestselling author of The Note.

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