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Authors: Marita Conlon-McKenna

The Stone House

BOOK: The Stone House
4.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
About the Book

Everything changes for Kate, Moya and Romy when Maeve, their mother, falls critically ill. They return from Dublin, London and New York to Rossmore and the old stone house overlooking the Irish Sea where they grew up – but ancient jealousies surface as each sister confronts the past and the decisions they have made.

For Kate it is time to re-examine of her role as a high-flying lawyer and single parent. Moya must take a good look at her marriage to the charming but unfaithful Patrick. Romy, who hasn't set foot on Irish soil for years, has to find the courage to face her family. Over the years Maeve labelled her daughters; Kate the brains, Moya the beautiful, and Romy the bold one. Now it is time for all three to break out of the box.

A gripping story of love, loss and the power of sisterhood and family relationships to survive the deepest hurts and secrets from one of Ireland's best-loves writers.



About the Book

Title Page





Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-six

Chapter Twenty-seven

Chapter Twenty-eight

Chapter Twenty-nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-one

Chapter Thirty-two

Chapter Thirty-three

Chapter Thirty-four

Chapter Thirty-five

Chapter Thirty-six

Chapter Thirty-seven

Chapter Thirty-eight

Chapter Thirty-nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-one

About the Author

Also by Marita Conlon-McKenna


The Stone House
Marita Conlon-Mckenna

For Mandy, Laura and Fiona,
my own three wonderful daughters.


Maria Grech Ganado, for the use of her wonderful poem ‘Relative Time'.

The two men in my life who are each so good in their own way: my husband James for his constant belief and support and my son James for making me laugh and smile every day and for being one of the kindest young men on the planet.

Mandy, Laura and Fiona, my three daughters – all so different and wonderful!

My sister Gerardine, it is so good to have you home.

Sarah Webb for being one of the nicest people I know and for always giving the best advice.

‘The Irish Girls' who help make being a writer so much fun. Martina Devlin, Claire Dowling, Mary Hosty, Julie Parsons, Deirdre Purcell, Marisa Mackle, Jacinta McDevitt, Ann-Marie Forrest, Catherine Dunne, Tina O'Reilly, Suzanne Higgins, Cauvery Madhaven et al. – thanks for all the dinners, drinks and chats.

My ‘Irish PEN' friends, especially Christine Dwyer-Hickey, Patricia O'Reilly, Denise Deegan, Nesta Tuomey and Kathleen Sheehan O'Connor.

My agent Caroline Sheldon.

My wonderful editor Francesca Liversidge.

Nicky Jeanes and all the team at Transworld.

Gill, Simon, Geoff, Declan and all the team at ‘Gill Hess', Dublin.

The Irish booksellers for all their support over the years.

Lastly to all my readers, especially those who have grown up with my books, thanks for making writing such a pleasure.

for my mother

Towards the end, my mother would regularly

bid me wind the clocks she couldn't reach –

how little time I felt I had, how slow

to respond, bipolared like a pendulum that's stopped.

Younger, I'd rushed to do it, directing from the stool

the ticking and the tocking with a wave of each hand,

gleefully flitting with each ding and dong

as I had paced them, clock succeeding clock.

When time ran out between the chores

of my own motherhood and my lost name,

all it became was the tighter twisting of keys

in yet more faces without doors, each effort

a rehearsed piece played for my mother

who thought me younger than she.

She's gone. As has my own young family.

And I've inherited the clocks, and the time

to wind them in. I keep their faces

within reach of mine. Sometimes their chimes

bring memories of lighter days. Sometimes

all they can say is GONE GONE GONE.

Maria Grech Ganado




Maeve Dillon walked down the gravelled driveway and across the main road, before turning through the gap in the hedgerow on to the narrow lane that led to the Strand. She savoured the solitude and quiet of the empty beach as she kicked off her flip-flops and wriggled out of her loose grey tracksuit. She loved to swim at this time of the morning and she walked across the bleached sand to the beckoning curve of swirling foam. The tide was in and she waded out to the tops of her thighs, her screams like that of a five-year-old as the freezing chill of the waves enfolded her and she dived in. The water was so cold it almost took her breath away. A good swimmer, she took long even strokes as she swam along the shoreline. Back and forth, five times, six times, the sea water invigorating her, sending the blood coursing through her veins, making her feel young, alive. She floated, letting the rhythm of the waves take her. There was nothing like it. Ever since she was a small girl she'd been swimming on this stretch, and now that she was getting older it was one
of her great pleasures. Light and ageless she floated. Her daughters fussed and told her it was dangerous to swim alone but she ignored their concerns – it beat going to a gym or aerobic classes any day! Two more stretches, backstroke, over-arm. She ran out and grabbed her towel, scrubbing at her limbs and shoulders, trying to dry herself, warming as she pulled the fleece sweatshirt over her mottled blue and pink tinged skin as she set off back up the beach, nodding to Philip Doyle, who was walking his two golden Labradors.

She walked briskly, turning towards home.

She crossed the road to the Stone House, the granite-clad house, where she had grown up, and where she and Frank in turn had raised their own family. The house built by her grandfather was set on a slight slope overlooking the beach, and provided magnificent views of the Rossmore coastline and the shipping lanes, the sound and smell of the sea a constant in the lives of its inhabitants.

A shower, then breakfast, for she had a busy day ahead.

She pottered around the kitchen. Porridge oats, milky tea, and some toast with bramble jelly. A solitary breakfast; she was still unused to this empty kitchen, children grown, Frank gone. She sat inside the window perusing yesterday's edition of the
Irish Times
, Jinx, the cat, mewing for attention. She let him out and watched him chase a daring robin across the patio.

She loved this house, this garden, and drew comfort from them. Since she had been widowed she had resisted pressures to sell it and to move somewhere smaller. This was her home and she had absolutely no
intention of selling it. The place held far too many memories for her to even consider leaving it. Growing up, her daughters had filled the house with their laughter and stories and parties and Frank and herself had hatched so many plans together at this very table. They had fought and cried, loved and grieved under this roof, struggled at times to keep their marriage together. Good and bad times, all shared between the bricks, roof, floors and polished wood of this old house. But now Frank was gone, her daughters caught up in their own lives and she was for the most part alone. She did her best to keep herself busy, create new routines, enjoy simple things: the garden, the church choir, lunches, the bridge club.

Maeve stirred herself. She had a few things to do before meeting her sister for lunch.

Chapter One

the notes, letters and stacks of files on her desk. She'd been far too wrapped up in the Bradley and Hughes merger, and look where it had got her. A backlog of cases to deal with and a senior partner breathing heavily down her neck, looking for some kind of date and time strategy that he could use to appease his mighty corporate clients. She rubbed at the back of her neck, hoping the circular movement of her fingers might ease off the tension of her impending headache. She stretched and, moving her head sideways, gazed from the tinted windows of her office to the quays below. A soft sunshine speckled the dark waters of the River Liffey, the late-afternoon traffic already building up. Like a princess in a shimmering glass tower Kate looked down over the city below her. She loved Dublin with its mix of old and new, ancient streets and modern contemporary architecture. Patterson's, the huge law firm where she worked, was situated right in the heart of Dublin's busy International Financial Services Centre in the redeveloped
docklands. Old warehouses and derelict buildings and yards had given way to glass and steel and concrete; the dollars, pounds, euro and yen of banking and finance had created an artistic landmark. She had fought hard to work in such an environment and soon hoped to reach the level of junior partner, a title few women of her age had achieved.

‘Kate, have you looked at that paperwork for Hughes's yet? They want a contract drawn up now!' interrupted her boss. Bill O'Hara, a former Irish rugby star, was now an eighteen-stone legal powerhouse who usually had the charm and wit to soft-soap the most truculent of clients. ‘Colman Hughes wants it all wrapped up by next Monday.'

Kate let out a whoosh of breath. There was at least twenty-four hours' solid work in it and she had to collect Molly from the crèche in an hour and a half.

He looked down at the pile of work on her desk.

‘Just leave the rest and concentrate on this. It's too important,' he said.

‘I know.'

At Patterson's, everyone knew that even the best and most loyal client could be fickle as hell if someone didn't jump through hoops to get their work done and on time. Their competitors were waiting with open arms.

‘Promise I'll do my best but . . .'

‘Good girl, Kate. I knew I could rely on you.' A smile lit up his broad face as he walked away from her in his immaculate Louis Copeland suit.

‘I'm out to dinner with those two Americans but I'll be home by ten, so you can e-mail me with a draft.'

Kate cursed her own ambition and need to be appreciated
as she phoned Derry to tell him yet again that she had to work late and to ask him if he could possibly pick up their three-year-old daughter.

A smile relaxed her face as she heard his calm and unhurried voice.

‘It's all right, Katie. I was just in the middle of some designs. But it's no problem. I'll see you later.'

‘I'm sorry, Derry. Really I am. It's Bill, he's put me in a spot. I'll try and get home in time for bedtime, OK?'

‘Sure. Molly and I will mind each other so don't worry, and I'll make her pancakes for tea.'

Kate laughed. Molly was going through a pancake stage, demanding them at every opportunity.

‘Save me some!' she said.

Putting down the phone she said a mental prayer of thanks for Derry's easy nature and the fact that he was self-employed. He worked from a small mews office close to her apartment, designing yachts and boats for a number of clients, including boat-builders and yards. Their three-year-old daughter was the result of a passionate fling. Derry was a good father who paid her some support money and had insisted on playing his part in raising Molly, a wild bundle of mischief who was a perfect balance of their two separate personalities.

Kate, a single mother, had fought hard to develop her legal career and establish her financial independence. She had seen too many of her colleagues put their career on the back boiler as they gave in to the demands of self-centred husbands or demanding young
families. She had worked too hard to throw in the towel and give up the position and respect she had earned at Patterson's. She had no rich husband or family to support her: everything she and Molly had, she had earned. She had learned the hard way when she was younger not to rely on men and had no intention of ever being dependent on anyone. No, she was quite capable of taking care of herself and her child, but at this minute was very glad that Derry had agreed to help out.

BOOK: The Stone House
4.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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