Firstly, I am so so sorry that this post is extremely late into Sunday. I’ve been back at work and I’m trying to get back organised and on point. I also went for a run so it’s been a long old day. Today I am pleased to tell you about The Ballynoon Friendship Circle and I will be sharing an extract.
Blurb: After finding her dream cottage in a magazine whilst at the hairdressers, Edel Marston, a fifty-year-old retired teacher, makes the life-changing decision to relocate back to Northern Ireland after the death of her husband Ben.
A rocky start with the neighbours and the knowledge of her past is a little too close for comfort, leaves Edel full of self-doubt. Her emotions have become a law unto themselves and she keeps wondering if she’s made the right decision.
After giving herself a good talking to, she decides to join a local over 50’s club, in a bid to embrace her new life. However, after meeting the friendly ladies of the self-proclaimed Stitch & Bitch group, she’s left with further feelings of uncertainty.
Realising quickly how gossipy these ladies can be, Edelfinds herself keeping more and more secrets, especially when her relationship with one particular frienddevelops into something much more.
Ultimately, Edel has to decide whether to trust again and let all of these new people into her life, warts and all or go back to being lonely but safe and with her secrets intact.
About the Author: The call to Pauline Morgan’s native Northern Ireland was too strong and, after a fascinating stint overseas, she recently relocated there. Pauline had some unique mystical experiences in various houses she lived in and, as a result, self-published the paranormal Special Houses. She has been a member of the Romantic Novelist Association and participated in their New Writers’ Scheme. She attended a day course in Editing, tutored by author/mentor Morgen Bailey.
Pauline is a member of Writers Ink, a multi-award winning www.writing.ie
She has written short stories; published in Woman’s Way and Irelands Own iconic magazine. Pauline enjoyed entering Flash Fiction competitions and was long-listed at Kanturk Arts Festival.
Her first poem Airborne, published on Pendemic.ie website March 2020
Pauline has completed a women’s ‘fiction book called The Ballynoon Friendship Circle, her debut novel to be published by SpellBound Books in early 2021. Pauline is working on a standalone book Christmas novel.
She engages with an extensive network of social writing groups on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Pauline turns her incredible imagination into words to create beautiful stories in different genres. She has a relaxed style of writing, and her mentor describes it as heart-warming and cosy. Pauline never shies away from any given written tasks.
Without further ado…..
“Mrs Marston, it’s safe for you to return to the building. Good job, your neighbour spotted the fire.” the voice of a sympathetic fireman informs me.
I enter the house, my heart is racing to see how much damage there is from the chimney fire. How chilly the place feels now compared to earlier. I suppose the doors have to stay open to let the offending smoke haze disappear too, evidence of tonight’s event. My chest heaves, bringing on a coughing fit and moisture wells up in my eyes.
“What manner of a mess can a chimney fire create?” I sob in distress into my handkerchief, picking up a broken frame of artwork I did years ago. Tears trickle down my face and the sight of the devastation is getting to me. Stamping my foot in anger, I hear the squelching sound from the soaked rugs, ruined with the black powdery dust. Everything stinks of smoke and will do for weeks. I touch the curtains, covered in soot, and look at the rest of the soft furnishings that have taken on a darker appearance from all of the smoke. The fireplace is scorched, and the paint is peeling on the chimney breast. My body shakes with fright; tears well up again to a point where everything appears fuzzy.
“Dear God, how can I keep it together and not breakdown into floods of tears?” Whispering the words to myself, a dark vale of lingering smoke, reminds me of my lucky escape from death. I have to keep some form of control, above all in front of strangers. I reposition a coffee table lying on its side; hoping my life will be trouble free once more moving forwards. The one-sided conversation in my head tells me to let out a massive scream to release the panic and anger. I bite my bottom lip to stop myself actually doing it. The truth hits hard because I’m lonely and have no one to turn to in a crisis. Now the severe doubts about living here creep into the forefront of my mind as I realise just how on my own I am. Tonight’s events have cast shadows on my happiness. Can I move on from this evening’s disaster? My mind starts to spiral down a negative road – what if the locals don’t like me? What will they say about me after tonight? Bloody hell, what if all my best intentions have been lost on a money pit? I could have any choice of a little apartment in sunny Benidorm for the same price. The photo of a Gate Lodge property in a magazine at the hairdressers was love at first sight though.
I nod to myself, taking on board the fire officer’s sound advice – to have all the chimney’s swept regularly. The shivers continue their journey through my body; folding my arms tight against myself to disguise the jerky moments of my emotions. In shock, I lean against the doorframe to take in the full extent of the damage. None of this would have taken place if Ben let me be part of his bloody annual house-maintenance plan. He’s not here, so I’ll have to start thinking like a person living on their own. The fire crew roll up the long lengths of hosepipes and put their ladders away. I think to myself that the least I could do for these guys is to offer them a hot drink or maybe some food; on the television, you always see the fireman receiving a call out as they’reabout to tuck into their tea; but I really don’t have the energy.
The fire officer approaches carrying a fire prevention leaflet.
“Mrs Marston, you’ll find everything you need in the brochure. Give the station a call about getting the fire smoke alarms organised.”
“Is there a charge for the callout?” I mutter, feeling stupid and responsible for causing the chimney fire.
“No charges but get Paddy McGee the local sweep out to do a clean and an inspection of the chimney. Our job here is complete. Please don’t be embarrassed, everyone in the village has experienced a chimney fire. Bye love,” He reassures me before re-joining his crew on the fire engine.
“Thank you and the team for turning up quickly. Bye.” My voice is croaky from holding back nervous tension. Then it hits me, there is still a stranger in my home.
With a heavy heart, I cross the threshold to see Martin Crawford standing in the kitchen. The man, all the villagers hate, washing dishes in my kitchen. My gaze rests on him; what if these ladies from the Stitch and Bitch Club could see me now. What if they have got this man’s character all wrong? Or am I just naïve, trying to see the good in everybody? Maybe I’m still in shock? I lift the butter dish and milk jug to return them to the fridge; and from nowhere, humble words spill from my lips.
“Thank you for your quick response to call the fire brigade,” my words make me feel, sweaty with anxiety. I start to twiddle my thumbs determined to get a good peep at this man’s face. Why does he have a reputation for being a scrooge? Not forgetting he drives like a crazy maniac.
Thank you to Zoë for including me onto this blog tour and once again I’m sorry it’s so late. Do make sure to check out the rest of the tour and to check out Zoe’s other blog tours.