Authors: Cathy Kelly
Cathy Kelly is a number one bestselling author. She worked as a journalist before becoming a novelist, and has published ten novels. She is an Ambassador for Unicef in Ireland, helping to raise awareness of the plight of 12 million children orphaned across Africa through AIDS. She lives in Wicklow with her family.
For more information on Cathy Kelly, visit her website at www.cathykelly.com
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Praise for Cathy Kelly:
‘A must for Kelly’s many fans; a warm, moving read.’ Daily Mail
‘Totally believable.’ Rosamunde Pilcher
‘An upbeat and diverting tale skilfully told … Kelly knows what her readers want and consistently delivers.’ Sunday Independent
‘An absorbing, heart-warming tale.’ Company
‘Her skill at dealing with the complexities of modern life, marriage and families is put to good effect as she teases out the secrets of her characters.’ Choice
‘Kelly dramatises her story with plenty of sparky humour.’ The Times
‘Kelly has an admirable capacity to make the readers identify, in turn, with each of her female characters …’ Irish Independent By the same author:
Woman to Woman She’s the One Never Too Late Someone hike You Just Between Us Best of Friends Always and Forever Past Secrets Lessons in Heartbreak CATHY KELLY
What She Wants
Harper An imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers 77-85 Fulham Palace Road, Hammersmith, London W6 8JB
This paperback edition 2008 1
Copyright Š Cathy Kelly 2001
Cathy Kelly asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN 978 0 00 7273935
This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.
Set in Sabon by Palimpsest Book Production Limited, Grangemouth, Stirlingshire
Printed and bound in Great Britain by Clays Ltd, St Ives pic
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To Francis and Lucy, with much love.
People always want to know if you put real people in books. And the answer, for most writers, is no. But I’ve found that readers come up to me later and say ‘you know that TV reporter woman in the last book, the vindictive, horrible cow with the platinum hair and the lisp? Well, we all know she’s meant to be so and so …’ This is the sort of comment that makes me go pale with fear. There’s no point babbling that you didn’t mean it to sound like any particular person. Nobody will believe you. You live in fear of meeting a TV reporter with platinum hair, a lisp and a strong right hook. Which is why I decided to write a book where I could make up things left, right and centre. Just in case anyone in a village in Kerry got upset with the carry-on in the village in my book, I invented my own village. The other problem with writing fiction is that you do a teeny bit of research and then go off and invent things merrily. This is a problem when the people who’ve given you the benefit of their experience actually read your book and say, shocked, ‘something like that would never happen!’ So apologies to all my friends in Sony Music Ireland in case there’s a bit that makes them go pale. I’m sorry, but I just made lots of things up! And thanks to Hugh Murray and to Angela for the detective work. Writing books involves lots of people and I’m lucky in that I work with some of the nicest book people ever. Thanks to my dear friend and agent Ali Gunn and all at Curtis Brown, especially Carol Jackson, Diana Mackay and Doug Kean. A huge thanks to my editor, Rachel Hore, for her kind words and encouragement. Thanks to Jennifer Parr for making editing such fun, thanks to Fiona McIntosh for all her hard work, unfailing good humour and kindness, thanks to everyone at HarperCollins UK for their incredible efforts, especially Nick Sayers, Adrian Bourne, Victoria Barnsley, Maxine Hitchcock, Anne O’Brien, Jane Harris, Martin Palmer, Moira Reilly, Tony Purdue, Lee Motley, Venetia Butterfield, Phyllis Acolatse, Tilly Ware, Esther Taylor, Leeza Morley, and especially all the sales team who do the really hard work. Thanks also to Tony, Dave and Barry for making the M25 fun, thanks to the RNA for giving me the thrill of winning the Parker RNA Romantic Novel of the Year award (I’m using my gorgeous pens to sign contracts and big cheques for handbags). Thanks to everyone at HarperCollins Australia for all their support, especially Christine Farmer, KarenMaree Griffiths and Sarah Ward. Thanks to marvellous Deborah Schneider, and my American family at Dutton, especially Carole Baron, Laurie Chittenden, Seta Bedrossian, Stephanie Bowe and Lisa Johnson. Thanks to the wonderful people in Gummerus, Empiria, The House of Books, Emece, Bertelsmann, Kadokawa Shoten and Norsk Ukeblad for all their hard work on my behalf. Thanks to my writer friends who write, phone and send cheering e-mails. Thanks for that go to Kate Thompson, Marian Keyes, Sheila O’Flanagan, Patricia Scanlan, Jenny Colgan and Martina Devlin. Thanks to dear friends like Sarah, Lisa, Susan, Esther, Joanne, Yvonne and LisaMarie for all their support. Thanks to Stella and John O’Connell for dinner parties that would be entire novels on their own! Thanks to my Powerscourt friends, especially Angela and Eddie, thanks to Siobhan O’Reilly for the ballet on the ball lessons, also hi Damyen and Bev! Thanks and love must go to my family for always being so supportive. Thanks Mum, Francis, Lucy, Anne and Dave. A big hello to Laura, Naomi, Emer and Robert.
Thanks to darling Tasmin who keeps me from turning into a couch potato, and thanks and much love to John for everything. Finally, a huge thank you so much to the people who read my books. And to all the lovely people who write nice messages on my web site. You have no idea how cheering it is to log on and find people have said kind things. Hope you enjoy this one.
As yet another noisy Cork and Kerry tour bus crunched gears over the humpbacked bridge, belching out diesel fumes, Mary-Kate Donlan closed the door of her chemist shop and locked it. If any Redlion inhabitant wanted either lipstick or flu remedies in their lunch break, they could go without. Ever since her assistant Otis had been on holiday, all she’d managed for her lunch for the past few weeks was a bit of a sandwich munched between customers and she was fed up with it. Today she’d arranged to meet her niece, Delphine, for a leisurely lunch and a chat. Wrapping her coat around her, she hurried down the village to the Widow Maguire’s, a pretty stone pub with window boxes, traditional music sessions twice a week and the best pub food for miles. She ran across the main street, a slim middle-aged woman with plain bobbed hair and not a speck of make-up on her shrewd, inquisitive face. She hurried past ‘Lucille’s: Fashions For All Occasions’ with just a brief glance in the window. Lucille’s fashions were always a little on the eccentric side. This week, the window sported plenty of knobbly knitwear in jewel colours, along with one magnificent cruise wear rig out that would probably look fine in the South of France but was a little skimpy for Kerry in October. She slowed down when she spotted Emmet from the convenience shop ahead of her. A crotchety old bandit with a fondness for porter, Emmet would talk the hind legs off a donkey and made for a very irritating luncheon companion on account of his tendency to wax lyrical about the rare
ould times as he sank his lunchtime two pints. When Emmet had nipped into the pub, Mary-Kate speeded up again. He’d have met some other poor soul by the time she got there, so she was safe. ‘Hello Lara,’ she greeted a tall red-haired woman in a stylish trouser suit who was just climbing out of the sleek silver Mercedes she’d parked outside the pub. ‘Hi,’ said Lara warmly. ‘How’s business?’ ‘Mad. The place is full of hypochondriacs. I should have bought shares in a drug company.’ They both laughed. ‘How are things going for you?’ Mary-Kate asked. ‘Marvellous,’ Lara said. ‘Just sold the old O’Brien place.’ ‘Shanrock Castle?’ asked Mary-Kate, impressed. A crumbling castle set in fifty acres of weed-infested parkland, only someone very rich could have afforded to buy it because they’d need to spend two fortunes renovating it. ‘Another rock star I suppose?’ The district surrounding Redlion boasted four rock stars, at least six novelists and one eccentric classical composer. The rock stars all lived sedate lives while the crazy parties took place at the classical composer’s home. Helicopters bearing Hollywood producers were always landing on his helipad, trying to get him to write music for their blockbusters. ‘No, an actress this time. I can’t name names but she’s one of those who keeps her Oscar in the toilet.’ Mary-Kate grinned. ‘They all say that. I’m meeting Delphine for a sandwich. Do you want to join us?’ Lara said yes just as a battered beetle pulled up and a voluptuous redhead in a purple velvet coat emerged. ‘Hi, girls,’ Delphine Ryan greeted her aunt, Mary-Kate, with a kiss and hugged her old school friend. ‘I haven’t set eyes on you for ages, Lara. What’s the gossip?’ In the Widows, they discussed everything from the price of property to the appalling state of the roads. ‘There’s a pot hole on the Blackglen road the size of a swimming pool and I spend my life avoiding it,’ Lara
complained. ‘If I destroy a wheel on the Merc going into it, I’m going to sue the council.’ ‘I love the Blackglen Road,’ sighed Delphine. ‘There’s a beautiful old period house out there that Eugene and I would have loved to buy, but it was way beyond our price range. It was fabulous, lovely old fireplaces and a big, sprawling garden with a bit of wood at the back.’ ‘You mean Kilnagoshell House, the old B &c B,’ Lara said. ‘I sold it six months ago. A woman from Dublin bought it, a widow actually. Virginia Connell is her name and she’s lovely. Lonely too, I daresay. You should call out and see her, Mary-Kate.’ ‘If she doesn’t want to meet people, that’s her business,’ Mary-Kate said wisely. ‘It would be wrong to intrude. When she needs people, we’ll be here.’ Lara finished her sandwich. ‘Must fly, girls. I’ve got to value the sweetest little cottage on the Killarney Road this afternoon.’ ‘Not old Gearoid’s place?’ inquired Mary-Kate. ‘Are they selling it or what?’ ‘Or what, I think,’ Lara said. ‘Apparently the house will belong to Gearoid’s nephew from Britain once they’ve got probate. God love him,’ Lara added with a shudder. ‘Gearoid left it in a terrible state. Then, I’ve got a viewing at the Richardsons’ farmhouse. It’s a pity they’re leaving the village, they’re nice people.’ ‘I should go too,’ Delphine said, getting to her feet. ‘I’ve a facial peel, two manicures and a bikini waxing this afternoon. Bye Mary-Kate.’ She kissed her aunt goodbye fondly. ‘I am going to finish my coffee in peace,’ Mary-Kate smiled up at them, her grey eyes warm. ‘Age must have its compensations. Take care, girls.’ The two younger women walked outside. ‘It’s a lovely day, isn’t it?’ said Lara as they stood for a moment enjoying the pale October sun. ‘When the sun shines, Redlion is magical. I think the Richardsons are mad
for leaving. I don’t know why anyone would ever want to sell up and leave.’ ‘I know what you mean,’ Delphine said, gazing fondly up the winding main street where pastel-coloured houses appeared to doze lazily in the sunlight. ‘It’s got a healing, comforting sense to it or does that sound crazy?’ ‘Not at all,’ Lara said ruefully. ‘I was on ten cups of coffee, one Prozac and at least half a bottle of wine a day when I lived in Dublin. Since I came home, I’ve discovered the calm side of myself.’ ‘Lara Stanley calm!’ teased Delphine. ‘That’ll be the day.’ Lara grinned. ‘Calmer, then,’ she said. ‘But it is down to this place. It is special. You know, when I left my job in Dublin, all my colleagues thought I was mad burying myself back in the country. “Dullsville” they called it. And I told them there’s nothing dull about Redlion.’ ‘We could do with a bit of dull,’ Delphine pointed out. ‘Too much happens round here. There’s going to be another one of those political think tanks in the hotel next week and the place will be swarming with media and politicians desperate to get their faces in the paper. And Mrs Rock Star up the road was in having her nails done yesterday and she told me they’re having a huge party for the album launch in November.’ ‘All go as usual,’ Lara said. ‘So much for the quiet life in the country. Still, I don’t want to tell the people in the city what it’s really like here or else they’d all up sticks and move down.’ Delphine laughed. ‘And we want to keep Redlion a secret, don’t we?’