EXCERPT: ‘She said something just before she died. Something I didn’t understand.’
She said there were babies at the bottom of the garden. She asked me to look after her babies. ‘
For the first time I saw Mum’s face crack. Her eyes widened, and her bottom lip trembled. ‘I wouldn’t take any notice of her. She were probably losing her mind by then.’
‘She wasn’t, though. I asked her if she meant her fairy statues, but she was adamant they were babies.’
‘She were probably thinking about angels. She used to believe in angels, you know. She told me once her angels would be waiting for her at the end.’
I stepped outside. Maybe Mum was right. It made more sense than anything I could come up with. It was only after I’d shut the door behind me and heard the anguished sob from the other side that I wondered if she might not be able to tell me the truth, even if she wanted to.
ABOUT THIS BOOK: Even the deepest buried secrets can find their way to the surface…
Moments before she dies, Nicola’s grandmother Betty whispers to her that there are babies at the bottom of the garden.
Nicola’s mother claims she was talking nonsense. However, when Nicola’s daughter finds a bone while playing in Betty’s garden, it’s clear that something sinister has taken place.
But will unearthing painful family secrets end up tearing Nicola’s family apart?
MY THOUGHTS: By the time I got to the end of this book, I was blubbering and had burned a tray of biscuits I was making for the bake sale. I am still feeling rather emotional, and have no idea how to put my feelings about The Last Thing She Told Me onto (virtual) paper.
Teenage pregnancy. Date rape. Illegitimacy. Blended families. Family rifts. Generational relationships. All these topics are part of the book, but definitely not the sum. We learn the story of Nicola’s family mainly from her point of view, interspersed with letters from William, a Canadian airman stationed in England during WWII, to Nicola’s grandma, Betty. There is also historical input from two other people involved in the story, whose identities are not revealed until almost the end.
I have long had a fascination with graveyards and love to wander the older sections, trying to decipher the inscriptions on the long neglected stones, and wondering about the lives of the people buried there. Now I will also be wondering about the secrets that have been buried with them.
WARNINGS: Tissues mandatory. Do not read and bake without fire extinguisher at hand.
THE AUTHOR: I was born in North London in 1970 and brought up in Hertfordshire. I wrote my first novella, the Time Machine, aged eight, shortly after which I declared that my ambition was to have a novel published (I could have been easy on myself and just said ‘to write a novel’ but no, I had to consign myself to years of torture and rejections). I was frequently asked to copy out my stories for the classroom wall (probably because my handwriting was so awful no one could read my first draft), and received lots of encouragement from my teachers Mr Roberts, Mrs Chandler (who added yet more pressure by writing in my autograph book when I left primary school that she looked forward to reading my first published novel!) and Mr Bird.
My first publication came when I was thirteen and my Ode to Gary Mabbutt won second prize in the Tottenham Weekly Herald ‘My Favourite Player’ competition. At fifteen I won the Junior Spurs Football Reporter of the Year Competition and got to report on a first division football match from the press box at White Hart Lane (I got lots of funny looks and none of the journalists spoke to me.)
At sixteen I embarked on ‘A’ levels and a journalism course at De Havilland College, Hertfordshire, and my college magazine interview about football hooliganism with local MP and football club chairman David Evans made a double page spread in Shoot! magazine (they never paid me) and back page headlines in several national newspapers (only a nice man at the Daily Star bothered to check the story with me).
I joined my local newspaper, the Enfield Gazette, as a trainee reporter at eighteen. During a ten year career in regional journalism I worked as a reporter on the Birmingham Daily News, news editor on the Birmingham Metro News and Chief Feature Writer on the Coventry Evening Telegraph, winning Highly Commended in the Feature Writer of the Year category of the 1997 Press Gazette Regional Press Awards.
I loved working on regional newspapers but by 1998 my features were getting too long and the urge to write a novel had become too great so I left my staff job to write my first novel and work as a freelance journalist. I have written for The Guardian, The Independent on Sunday, The Times Educational Supplement, The Big Issue, Wanderlust and Community Care Magazine. I’ve also had a short story published in Best magazine
I found the writing and working from home a very solitary process so also worked as co-ordinator of the Birmingham Bureau of Children’s Express, a national charity which runs a learning through journalism programme for young people and taught journalism to schoolchildren for the National Academy of Writing. After I moved north in 2001 I qualified as an adult education tutor and taught creative writing classes to students aged between 18 and 82 for the Workers Educational Association across Calderdale, West Yorkshire.
After more than a hundred rejections from agents for my first novel (and more rewrites than I care to remember) I finally got an agent but still couldn’t get a publisher. I started work on my second novel I DID A BAD THING in 2003, finished the first draft and gave birth to my son Rohan in 2004, rewrote the novel and got a new agent in 2005, obtained a two-book deal with Headline Review in 2006.
I Did a Bad Thing was published in paperback in October 2007, made the top thirty official fiction bestsellers list (and number 3 in Tesco!) and has so far sold more than 77,000 copies. 10 Reasons Not to Fall in Love was published in paperback in March 2009, reached no 22 in the official fiction bestseller charts (and no 4 in Tesco) and has so far sold more than 80,000 copies. Both novels were also long-listed for the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year Award.
Following the success of my first two novels I got another two-book deal from Headline Review, with Things I Wish I’d Known being the first of these. I am currently working on my fourth novel.
I enjoy travelling.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Quercus Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Last Thing She Told Me by Linda Green for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2718399363