Good evening everyone I’m on the blog tour for Finding Jess by Julia Ibbotson I have a great extract to share with you all.
Finding Jess is available now in paperback and ebook, purchase your copy here.
Before I share the extract with you here is a little bit about the book.
Single mum Jess has had her world turned upside down. Now it’s about to be turned inside out.
Jess has got a tough life back on track after love-of-her-life husband Simon walked out on her and their beautiful young daughters Katy and Abi. But she has long-time friend and confidante Polly to turn to…until Polly and Simon start having an affair together.
When Polly decides to apply for a job at Jess’s school, in the English department, Jess feels threatened. So why has Polly set her sights on the department head’s role? And why is the school now offering Jess a sideways ‘promotion’?
Jess can no longer trust anyone – including herself. Then out of the blue she is mysteriously sent a clipping for a temporary post in the Ministry of Education in Ghana, where she did a gap year as a teenager, and where she was happy. She is on the brink of losing everything at home but could this be a lifeline?
Julia Ibbotson’s Finding Jess is a passionate study of love and betrayal – and of one woman’s bid to reclaim her self-belief and trust after suffering great misfortune. It is a feel-good story of a woman’s strength and spirit rising above adversity.
Chapter One: January 1990 – Before
“Please forgive me! I don’t know why I did it, I must have been mad. Oh god, Jess, can you ever forgive me?”
Jess looked at the tense huddled figure on the doorstep. She watched the tears coursing down the pale face before her, fair fringe plastered to her brow, eyes red and bulging, hands threaded through the straps of the hobo bag and clasped together at her chest. A study in tension and grief. What could she say? Could she ever forgive? All that had happened flooded back into her mind, events and emotions she had fought off for years and thought that they were past and that she was over it all. She touched the door lintel to try to steady herself.
Where was the attractive stylish blonde, the confident self-assured woman she had known as her best friend, before … before …?
Yet Jess noted the expensive designer jeans she wore and the draped silky top.
“You’d better come in,” she said with a grimace and led her visitor through the tiny narrow hall to the bijou living room. She liked the word ‘bijou’; it sounded better in her mind than small and cramped.
She moved her daughter’s school bag off the battered armchair, gestured to Polly to sit and perched herself on the sofa, back stiff and upright as if she was ready for flight at the first sign of anything untoward. Yet this was someone with whom she had shared so much, university, work, marriage, having children.
And a husband. Simon, who had been her soul mate …
Chapter Two: Ghosts
Jess slept fitfully that night, her mind in turmoil. So Polly had left Simon; he was unfaithful to her too. And now she had decided to return to Matt and the bosom of her family, her boys. The boys she had deserted. Did she even know (she must do!) that she, Jess, and Matt had … If they had imagined that Polly would return … of course they wouldn’t have …
The past was coming back to haunt her again, when she had imagined that she had organised her life in some kind of order, making the best of things, got life on an even keel. Now it had started up again, that insecurity, that confusion, those ghosts of the past. Just like in Ghana all those years ago. And then, long after Ghana, just like that dreadful night when it all went disastrously wrong …
On that night, in 1986, so long ago, on their wedding anniversary, lying next to her beloved Simon, listening to his breathing, loving him yet somehow afraid, she had held her hands up over her face trying to blank out the rhythmic rising and falling of sounds in the heavy darkness, that sense of imminent danger. She had no idea what was about to happen to them, to her much-loved family, but somehow it reminded her so vividly of that time in Ghana, and those portentous drumbeats … they were haunting her again, whatever they meant …
… the whispering souls and spirits calling to her across the bush; the surging and dying of the wind on the night air, the insistent beat of the kpanlogo djembe. Once more, her dreams were garish and crowded as they had been there. And she remembered that haunting. What was it that felt so ominous now?
Eventually, exhausted, she had slept, but it was restless and in the morning she had struggled out of bed feeling as though she had the worst hangover ever. Simon was already up and she could hear him downstairs as she went for her shower.
“Katy! Abi! Are you both up?” she had called.
“Yes, I’m getting dressed and Katy’s gone down.”
After her shower she had sunk onto the stool at the dressing table and peered at her drawn features. Her eyes looked puffy and sore. Right. Makeup out, let’s get respectable. Paint a decent face on …
As she swept brown eyeliner across her eyes, she became aware that he was standing in the bedroom doorway, a sense of agitation emanating from him. She could almost smell the sweat. She looked up and saw that he was leaning against the lintel staring at her. It was not a loving stare but a troubled, frowning one and she knew that he needed to tell her something that she wasn’t going to like. She knew him so well. Some money problem? Work? He wanted to resign from his job and let her to be the breadwinner? Oh dear – she hoped not. She didn’t have the years of promotions behind her to stand keeping the family on her income. But he had threatened that so many times.
She raised her eyebrows enquiringly. He shifted from foot to foot in the doorway and Jess began to feel very uneasy. Her hand trembled and she dripped the liquid eyeliner onto the dressing table.
“I have to tell you,” he said with a slow intake of breath, those fatal, unimaginable, alien words that would haunt her forever. “I’m leaving you.”
“What?” She hadn’t expected that. Her heart fell, tumbling to inexorable death.
“You heard me,” Simon snapped, his face suddenly contorted. “I’ve decided that I don’t want to be a husband and father any more.”
“Decided …? What on earth do you mean?”
About The Author:
Acclaimed, best selling and award-winning author, Julia Ibbotson says that she loves curling up with a good book by the fire (or in the Madeiran sunshine!) and of course, writing. Find her at http://www.juliaibbotsonauthor.com
An author and academic, Julia also loves travel, choral singing, cooking for family and friends, country walks, and swimming – and has a fondness for Earl Grey tea with homemade sticky ginger flapjacks for afternoon tea in the garden.
She is fascinated by the early medieval world and by the concept of time, and spends many a happy hour researching these areas for her books. Hence her medieval historical novel A Shape on the Air and her fantasy medieval children’s novel S.C.A.R.S, which both revolve around time-slip. She studied Anglo-Saxon language, literature and history at university and is currently reviewing recent research into the Dark Ages.
Julia has also written the Drumbeats trilogy, the first of which is Drumbeats, the story of love and tragedy set in 1960s West Africa against the backdrop of civil war. It’s available on Amazon, as are all her books. The second in the trilogy, Walking in the Rain, deals with some harsh realities of relationships, and the third, Finding Jess, sees her protagonist finding closure and resolution.
She is also the writer of the best selling memoir and history of the kitchen: The Old Rectory: escape to a country kitchen, which is about the renovation of an English Victorian rectory, and about finding what’s important in life, with recipes to feed the soul at the end of each chapter.
In her life as a university lecturer, Dr Ibbotson has published many academic papers and books, mainly in the field of linguistics, education, gender, management and leadership.