Thursday, 10 October 2019

Three Little Truths by Eithne Shortall - Extract




One happy street. Three pretty houses. So many lies...

Martha used to be a force of nature: calm, collected, and in charge. But since moving her husband and two daughters to Dublin under sudden and mysterious circumstances, she can't seem to find her footing.

Robin was the "it" girl in school, destined for success. Now she's back at her parents' with her four-year-old son, vowing that her ne'er-do-well ex is out of the picture for good.

Edie has everything she could want, apart from a baby, and the acceptance of her new neighbours. She longs to be one of the girls, and to figure out why her perfect husband seems to be avoiding their perfect future.

Three women looking for a fresh start on idyllic Pine Road. Their friendship will change their lives, and reveal secrets they never imagined. Liane Moriarty meets Lisa Jewell in this story of the love affairs, rivalries and scandals that hide behind every door...


Extract 


*** Pine Road Poker ***

Bernie: 
Hi, all. Number 6 found a hole in their back garden this morning. That makes *three* in one week. I hope we can all take this seriously now? I have spoken to Island Stores and they’ve ordered in extra rat poison. Remember to say ‘Pine Road Discount’ to get ten per cent off. Regards, Bernie Watters-Reilly 

Ellen: So well said, Bernie – as always. We’ve already put down two doses. 

Edie: Will buy ours asap. Thanks for organising, Bernie! X 

Ruby: I wonder where the little buggers are coming from? 

Ellen: From Number 8, no doubt. I don’t like to speak ill of the dead, but for the lack of attention Mrs Ryan paid to her garden she should have been taken out and shot before the pneumonia had a chance to get her. Yes, she was 97, but how much upper body strength do you need to pull a few weeds? I just hope the new people sort it out. Any sign of the woman yet? 

Ruby: Saw the husband and daughters leaving again this morning. No sign of the wife, though. 

Carmel: I’ve got Robin on window watch.

Fiona: She’s definitely in there, Ellen hun! I can hear the radio. XXXX 

Rita Ann: Did anyone take the Irish Times from my doorstep this morning? I need yesterday’s Sudoku results. The paper of ‘record’ would appear to have made a mistake. 

Ruby: Are you asking if we stole your newspaper? 

Rita Ann: I’m wondering if someone took it by accident. 

Ruby: Maybe the rats took it. 

Fiona: Do you think so?? 

Ruby: No. 

Fiona: Do you think the rats might affect house prices? 

Ellen: I didn’t know Robin was still staying with you, Carmel. Everything okay with her at home? 

Fiona: We already have poor aspect. I wouldn’t like a rodent rumour to depreciate our value any further ... 

Rita Ann: Who cares about a few mice when there’s a thief in our midst?? If my paper is returned by dinnertime, all supplements intact, I’m willing, on this one occasion, to turn a blind eye.

Ruby: Rita Ann and the Case of the Missing Broadsheet. 

Bernie: Poison, ladies! Do not forget the poison!

ONE

Martha Rigby had been sitting at the kitchen table since Robert left for work. The girls, who had taken to their new school with such ease it almost seemed pointed, had set off before either parent was awake. 

There were boxes everywhere, furniture still stacked in corners, gas and electricity readings jotted down on a pad in front of her waiting to be registered, a to-do list lying unticked beside it. 

She knew she should stand up, make a start on things. 

The radio played on and the light through the grubby windows grew brighter. 

She looked around the room and felt a profound sense of detachment. The idea of doing anything was so exhausting that the only reason she could think to stand was to go back to bed. Oscar snored by the back door. She’d have to get up eventually, if only to let him out to do his business. 

Her distorted reflection glinted in the oven door. The old her, the real her, would never have let it get to this. 

Maybe she should take the tablets Dr Morten had prescribed. There was no shame in it. Most people who’d been through what she’d been through would have been knocking them back well before now. Dr Morten had made that very clear. But Martha took pride in her will-power. She’d had her wisdom teeth out last June without so much as a painkiller. In fact, the last time she took paracetamol was four years ago, and she’d only allowed herself that indulgence because it was the morning after her blow-out fortieth birthday party. 

Martha didn’t take drugs unless entirely necessary. If her body had something to tell her, she wanted to be able to hear it. 

But then, this wasn’t a toothache or a hangover she was dealing with. To put it mildly. 

The radio jingle went for the eleven o’clock news. She could have sworn the ten o’clock bulletin had just ended. She’d hear the headlines, see if anything had happened beyond these walls in the past hour, and then she’d stand up. 

Hospital bed shortage . . . No-deal Brexit a possibility . . . Calls for improved sex education . . . Irish accent voted sexiest in the world. 
The male Irish accent, she noted. No mention of its female counterpart. Presumably this was what Sinead meant when she said the patriarchy was always at work. ‘And we’re working for it, Mum,’ she’d insisted the previous evening before Robert told her pubic hair was not a suitable topic for dinner-table conversation. That just set her off again. Her father’s views were ‘a domestic iteration of the institutionalised subjugation of women’s bodies’. Robert gave up then and went back to his microwaved lasagne. 

Martha hoped this new school would be as good as the last. Both her girls had loved their old place. Sinead had been chair of the debating team and had just been made editor of the paper, despite only being in fifth year, when she was yanked out of her old life and shoved into this one. And with that, Martha’s mind was off, rushing down the M7, fleeing their new life, heading back to their old one, but she caught herself just before the Limerick exit. 

About The Author 


Eithne Shortall studied jouralism at Dublin City University and has lived in London, France and America. Now based in Dublin, she is chief arts writer for the Sunday Times Ireland. She enjoys sea swimming, cycling and eating scones. 

Grace After Henry is her second novel. Shorthall’s bestselling debut novel, Love in Row 27, has been optioned for a TV series by NBC Universal Studios International, the production company behind Downton Abbey. 





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2 comments

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