Related to: 'Whispers'

Julie Sarkissian blogs about the problems facing the protagnist of her debut novel, DEAR LUCY

Something's Wrong With Lucy - But What?

Lucy is different – that much is clear. She speaks like a child, doesn’t recognize social boundaries, flies into rages, and treasures rotten food. Her cognition is impaired, her vocabulary is very limited and she cannot read or write. But what – precisely – is wrong with her is left up to the reader. Lucy is the protagonist of my novel, DEAR LUCY, and from the first sentence of the book I ever wrote it was obvious that Lucy was cognitively different. The way Lucy describes herself is as “missing too many words.” Her mother calls her “difficult.” Readers of early drafts of the book had a few theories as to Lucy’s condition; autism, Williams Syndrome, Down Syndrome. But Lucy’s mother has kept her from going to school and Lucy has never seen a doctor. So in the fictional reality of the book there is no official diagnosis. But as the novel progressed I wondered – should I have one? I was torn. If Lucy was presenting enough symptoms to point to a real condition, was I ignoring the obvious not to fold that condition into my development of her character? Was it insensitive of me to allude to aspects of certain real, life-altering conditions but not assign a specific condition to Lucy? I worried about appropriating aspects of serious conditions without treating those conditions with proper respect and acknowledgement. And though any clinical diagnosis would probably not be explicit in the novel, I wondered if I would be ignoring an opportunity to bring attention to a real disorder when people asked me about Lucy’s condition, the way The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time did for autism. On the other hand, I had concerns that if I chose a diagnosis for Lucy, I would be ascribing to her qualities that she wouldn’t have otherwise presented. Lucy had her own will over my writing and over the novel. I didn’t want to yoke Lucy’s expression by keeping her behavior and abilities consistent with a clinical condition. Accuracy would also become a critical issue if Lucy’s condition was named. Ultimately I chose not to diagnose Lucy, though I worry the artistic freedom provided by that decision comes at the price of being judged for being too liberal with my treatment of cognitive disorders. Now that publication is a few months away, I am apprehensive of how my treatment of Lucy’s cognitive limitations will be judged. I have yet to talk to a reader who has a learning different child, or works with learning different people, and that conversation is one I will be honored, and not a bit anxious, to have.

Hodder & Stoughton

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Pam Rhodes
Authors:
Pam Rhodes

Pam Rhodes is best known as the familiar face of the BBC's Songs of Praise, and here she brings together her personal selection of carols, poems, Bible readings and other inspirational passages from a wide range of sources.As well as the usual old favourites - from Hark the Herald Angels Sing to the stories of the shepherds and the wise men visiting the baby Jesus - there are plenty of lighter moments, with excerpts from Gervase Phinn's memoirs and funny poems by modern writers. Alongside the items themselves Pam shares some of her own Christmas reminiscences and explores the resonance of the Christmas story for all our lives in her trademark inviting and heartwarming style.There is something here for everyone, from those wanting to enjoy dipping in for a taste of Christmas to those needing a sourcebook to inspire selections for Christmas services. Enjoy!

Hodder & Stoughton

Letting Go

Pam Rhodes
Authors:
Pam Rhodes

After eighteen years together, Meg and Alan Barratt have a marriage that works and a settled, orderly and companionable life. On the eve of their wedding anniversary, Alan presents Meg with an eternity ring, inscribed with the date of their wedding and just one word: FOREVER. Then, just before Christmas, an act of betrayal makes Meg question the basis of her entire life. Without the trust on which she's always believed their love was based, is their marriage, family and home all an illusion? For Meg, the holiday season is far from festive. But as the new year dawns, she realises that she owes it to her son and daughter to take up the reins again. And when Alan reminds her of that anniversary promise, Meg must decide just what FOREVER means.

Hodder & Stoughton

Ties That Bind

Pam Rhodes
Authors:
Pam Rhodes

Gwen and Richard have just celebrated their silver wedding anniversary; it is a good marriage, and they are proud of their daughter Susie. They never even talk about the child that they gave up for adoption long ago. But now that Kate is grown up, and pregnant herself, she wants to find out about her natural parents. Richard dies, tragically, before she can make contact, and Gwen has to deal not only with the pain of bereavement, but with the conflicting emotions that Kate's reappearance arouses, particularly for Susie. For a time it looks as though Gwen will lose her daughter all over again. Meanwhile Kate's adoptive parents, Roger and Margaret, are grappling with a failing farm as well as the anxiety of their beloved daughter's decision.

Hodder & Stoughton

The Trespassers

Pam Rhodes
Authors:
Pam Rhodes

Philip Barnes, the popular vicar of St John's church in a small West Country town, is very happily married: he and his wife Ruth have a solid relationship based on deep love and a shared commitment to family and to faith. So when he finds himself strongly attracted to his daughter's piano teacher, Louise, his feelings are both stimulating and shocking. Their brief affair has tragic consequences for everyone involved, but once Philip realises Ruth has forgiven him, he can begin to forgive himself.

Hodder Paperbacks

As the Night Ends

Audrey Howard
Authors:
Audrey Howard

Driven by her idealism and courage, Alex Goodwin will make any sacrifice to win votes for women. Her despairing family, unable to rescue her from yet another dangerous prison sentence, is overjoyed when Patrick O'Leary comes into her life. A hard-working young surgeon, Patrick is as idealistic as Alex and loves her with all his heart.Then they are separated - first by a quarrel, then by the terrible war which engulfs their world, and finally, after a miraculous reunion, by a tragedy that seems to make it impossible for either of them ever to love again . . .

Hodder Paperbacks

Painted Highway

Audrey Howard
Authors:
Audrey Howard

Vibrant and headstrong, Ally Pearce loves working on the Edith, her family's narrowboat, proving she's the equal of any man on the Leeds to Liverpool canal. Betsy, delicate, calculating and sensuously beautiful, wants only to become a 'lady' - and will use the most unladylike means to become one.When Dr Tom Hartley enters the sisters' lives after a tragic accident both are attracted to him - but for very different reasons...

Hodder Paperbacks

A Place Called Hope

Audrey Howard
Authors:
Audrey Howard

To Sir Robert Blenkinsopp, his frail, exquisite wife Amy is just another possession - to be used, misused or discarded like anything else at Newton Law, his grand estate on Northumberland's wild moore. The gamekeeper they call Duffy thinks he has never seen anything quite so brave as Amy Blenkinsopp as she faces up to her husband - and is overjoyed when the brute is found unconscious at the bottom of his own staircase, deprived of the power of speech and movement. With the help of Sir Robert's servants and the increasingly devoted Duffy, she makes the estate not only happier but richer as well. But Sir Robert Blenkinsopp is not dead. Imprisoned in the wreck of his body, his only companion a loathesome servant, he is plotting a vicious revenge on Amy, on her children, and on the man who has come to love her.

Alan Titchmarsh

Alan Titchmarsh is known to millions through the popular BBC TV programmes British Isles: A Natural History, How to be a Gardener, Ground Force and Gardeners' World. But he started out in far humbler beginnings, in a rural childhood on the edge of Ilkley Moor in Yorkshire.After a spell at Kew he became a horticultural journalist, as an Editor of gardening magazines, before becoming a freelance broadcaster and writer.He has twice been named 'Gardening Writer of the Year' and for four successive years was voted 'Television Personality of the Year' by the Garden Writers' Guild. In 2004 he received their Lifetime Achievement Award.Alan has appeared on radio and television both as a gardening expert and as an interviewer and presenter, fronting such programmes as Points of View, Pebble Mill, Songs of Praise, Titchmarsh's Travels and Ask the Family, and since 1983 has presented the BBC's annual coverage of The Chelsea Flower Show. He now has his own daytime TV show on ITV, The Alan Titchmarsh Show. Alan has written more than forty gardening books, as well as seven best-selling novels, including his 2008 success, Folly, which have all made the Sunday Times Bestsellers List. Alan has published three volumes of memoirs; Trowel and Error sold over 200,000 copies in hardback when published in 2002, and Nobbut A Lad, about his Yorkshire childhood, was published in October 2006 with similar success, and his third volume of memoir Knave of Spadeswas a Sunday Times bestseller.He was made MBE in the millennium New Year Honours list and holds the Victoria Medal of Honour, the Royal Horticultural Society's highest award. He lives with his wife and a menagerie of animals in Hampshire where he gardens organically.

Anna Jacobs

Anna Jacobs grew up in Lancashire and emigrated to Australia, but still visits the UK regularly to see her family and do research, something she loves. She is addicted to writing and figures she'll have to live to be 120 at least to tell all the stories that keep popping up in her imagination and nagging her to write them down. She's also addicted to her own hero, to whom she's been happily married for many years.She is the bestselling author of over eighty novels and has been shortlisted for several awards, and Pride of Lancashire won the Australian Romantic Book of the Year Award in 2006.You can find out more on her website, www.annajacobs.com or on her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/Anna.Jacobs.Books.

Audrey Howard

Audrey Howard was born in Liverpool in 1929. Before she began to write she had a variety of jobs, among them hairdresser, model, shop assistant, cleaner and civil servant. In 1981, while living in Australia, she wrote the first of her bestselling novels. Here fourth novel, The Juniper Bush, won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award in 1988.She lives in St Anne's on Sea, her childhood home.

Belva Plain

Belva Plain's first novel, EVERGREEN, was published in 1978 and became an international bestseller. Over the course of a career spanning three decades she published over twenty bestselling novels in 22 languages. She died at the age of ninety five in 2010.

Helen Chandler

Helen Chandler read English at Oxford University before working as a general manager in various NHS organisations. She lives in East London with her husband and daughter. Her first novel, TWO FOR JOY, was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists' Association Contemporary Romance award, 2013.You can visit Helen's website at www.helenchandler.co.uk to find out more or read her blog, or follow her on Twitter www.twitter.com/HelenLChandler.

Irene Carr

Irene Carr was born and brought up on the river in Monkwearmouth, Sunderland, in the 1930s. As her father and brother worked in the local shipyards and her mother was a barmaid at the beginning of the century she was well acquainted with the setting and times of the world she recreated in her sagas. Irene Carr died in 2006.

Julia Bryant

Julia Bryant was born in Portsmouth: her step-father and husband both served in the Navy. She trained as a nurse, then after her three children grew up, earned an honours B.A. in English and history. She and her husband now live in Portsmouth once more. Visit her website at www.juliabryant-online.com.

Kate Fenton

Kate Fenton was born in Oldham and educated in Cheshire, Manchester and St Hilda's College, Oxford. As a BBC features and documentaries producer she worked for Radio Wales, the World Service and Radio 4. She lives on the North York Moors with her husband, actor Ian Carmichael. To find out more, visit Kate's website, www.katefenton.com.

Lucy Dillon

Lucy Dillon was born in Cumbria. She won the Romantic Novelists' Association Novel of the Year Award in 2010 for Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts, and is the bestselling author of four other novels: The Ballroom Class, Walking Back to Happiness, The Secret of Happy Ever After and A Hundred Pieces of Me. Lucy now divides her time between London and the Wye Valley where she enjoys walking in the Malvern Hills with her basset hounds, Violet and Bonham. You can follow her on Twitter @lucy_dillon or on Facebook www.facebook.com/pages/LucyDillonBooks.

Olivia Darling

Thirty-two year old Olivia Darling was born and raised in Cornwall. At the age of eighteen she fell in lust with an Italian art student in St Ives and ran away to Tuscany in hot pursuit of him. The love affair didn't last but Olivia's sojourn in Montepulciano inspired a much more enduring passion for Vino Nobile. She divides her time between Tuscany and London, where she writes her novels of sex, love and luxury.

Posie Graeme-Evans

Posie Graeme-Evans was born in England but travelled all over the world with her parents, a novelist and an Australian spitfire fighter pilot. Posie has worked in the Australian film and television industry for the last 25 years as an editor, director and producer on hundreds of prime time television programmes including the number one drama series McLeod's Daughters and the worldwide pre-school phenomenon Hi-5.Posie and Andrew Blaxland, her husband and creative partner, live in Tasmania.

Sally Hepworth

Sally Hepworth is the bestselling author of three previous novels, and a human resource professional. A graduate of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, Sally started writing novels after the birth of her first child. Sally has lived around the world, spending extended periods in Singapore, the UK, and Canada, and she now writes full-time from her home in Melbourne, where she lives with her husband and two young children.

Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown is the author of numerous New York Times bestselling thrillers. She lives in Arlington, Texas. Visit her website at www.sandrabrown.com and connect with her on Twitter: @SandraBrown_NYT