The Revolving Year

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Release Date: April 2015
Author: Vanessa Furse Jackson
ISBN Paperback: 978-1-935460-82-4
ISBN eBook: 978-1-935460-83-1
LCCN: 2013951285
Edited by: Brenda Morris
Cover Artist: Stephanie Flint
Pages: 234

 


Devonshire, England—1999. It just might be the end of the world for 35-year-old Imogen Hearne. First, she learns that her beloved older sister has breast cancer, followed by the news that the lease on the small cottage that has been her home for the past ten years will be cancelled in January 2000. The only bright spot on the horizon seems to be an extended visit from her niece Celia, who has recently dropped out from university.

But Celia’s visit may turn out to be the cruelest blow of all. For in the midst of Millennium fever, Immy falls unexpectedly — and mutually — in love with Celia’s fiancé. As the year 2000 looms ever closer, Immy will soon be forced to make a life-altering decision. Should she accept this once-in-a-lifetime gift of love, or deny it for the sake of holding together the small, fragile family she treasures?

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Paperback: $13.95

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“Engrossing exposé of the twists and turns of family dynamics, all in the name of love. Ms. Jackson draws the relationships between her characters in such fine detail that the reader is charmed and appalled by turns on the affect that each one has on the life of the others.”Adele Abbot, author, Postponing Armageddon and Of Machines & Magics

“A fascinating character study of unintended consequences set loose in a disparate family circle.” — Sean Mulcahy, author, Slip Sliding Away

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Outside the open bedroom window, the scent of oak leaves hung sweet in the warm September dusk. Immy, sitting on the wide window seat, could hear Carne Brook lapping softly over its gray stones at the bottom of the garden.

“I have a small white octopus in my breast. What do you think of that?” Ros asked. She might have been joking, so light was her tone.

Immy, speechless, pressed the telephone closer to her ear.

“Not that small, as it happens,” her sister said.

Far off over the woods, a tawny owl hooted once, then fell silent. In the vast bowl of half dark beyond the thick walls of the cottage, she sensed an ancient peace, an eternal interconnection at once so distant from the small sorrows of humanity and yet so close that if she could just reach out into it…

“Nine centimeters,” Ros said.

Immy withdrew her hand from the evening air and arranged it carefully in her lap, as if it belonged to someone else. A small white octopus. In her mind, she could see only a gigantic white octopus, its slow-moving tentacles groping… curling… reaching…

“Immy? Are you still there?”

Her right hand, holding the phone against her ear, was slick with sweat. “That sounds,” she began and cleared her throat. “That doesn’t sound good, Ros.” Mum, she was thinking. Like Mum. She tried to hold onto this moment—the scented September dusk hanging just out of reach over the garden, the oak trees, dark Hawke’s Field rising like night behind the hazel and alder that fringed the stream. If only time would stop now, just for a little while.

“A Grade Two, lobular carcinoma.” Her sister’s voice was matter-of-fact.

The sweat from Immy’s right hand seemed to shoot like an anesthetic up her arm and into her chest, cold and steely. The phone became hard to hold, as if the concertina’d cable attached to its mouthpiece were trying to tug the receiver back onto its rest. Back to silence. “When?” she whispered.

“When what?” Ros asked. Impatiently, Immy thought.

“Did you…?”

“Five days ago. Thursday.”

“Last week?”

“I couldn’t talk. Couldn’t tell. Not even Richard.” And the impatience had gone. Now it was Ros who spoke in a whisper.

Richard. The husband Immy had never quite been able to like. For an unworthy instant, she was glad Ros hadn’t been able to tell him.

“Straight away, I mean.” Her sister’s voice faltered. “I couldn’t tell anyone. I felt…”

“Oh, Ros.” I’m so sorry, Immy wanted to say, but the phrase seemed inept, and she was afraid Ros would scorn it.

There was a pause, each of them listening to the raggedness of the other’s breaths filling the space between them. Immy imagined Ros in her comfortable house in Highgate, in London, where Immy had stayed so often. A house now forever changed by this… this horror.

“The thing is…” Ros stopped.

Immy heard her blowing her nose.

“I know you won’t like this.”

“What?” Immy stared down at the rush matting on her bedroom floor. There was a long-dead moth, she saw, caught in one of the cracks. She should bring the Hoover upstairs tomorrow—give the whole room a good going over.

“I want you to tell Dad.”

“Me?” The warm breeze turned instantly wintry against the back of her neck, and Immy shut her eyes, the hand in her lap closing into a protective fist. “Ros, no, I can’t.” And the no stuttered on inside her head, the negatives beating their wings against this impossible invasion. I can’t cope. I can’t tell Dad. I can’t think of you dying. I can’t accept this.

“. . . didn’t show on my last mammogram, useless bloody things. It took two biopsies. He’ll ask. I know he will. And I can’t bear to…”

No, no, no.

“Immy, listen.”

Immy slid along the window seat to reach for a tissue on her dressing table, from where she’d picked up the ringing phone in some long distant past. The stretched cable relaxed as the receiver neared its base, and she almost put the phone down, so great was her desire for the cessation of this unwanted, excruciating call.

“I need you.”

“Yes,” she said. “Yes, of course I will. Sorry. Sorry, Ros. It was just…”

“The shock. Yes, I know,” her sister said.

When the conversation was over, Immy went downstairs to pour herself a glass of white wine from an open bottle in the fridge. She gulped half of it down as she might have gulped down aspirin, while standing in the middle of her kitchen floor, grimacing at the bitter, medicinal taste. Then she refilled her glass, shut the fridge, and climbed the steep wooden stairs to her bedroom again.