Time to introduce a character who has been mentioned in the previous three introductory blogs…Kim Russell… the character who isn’t there but who is central to the story. She died in a horse riding accident fifteen years before the start of the novel.
Kim was the author of a successful series of novels featuring an Australian sleuth, Amy Ransom. The novels were also made into films. The reason most of the guests book into Winterbourne House is because of the author’s fame. Fans come from all over the world to stay.
Winterbourne House was Kim’s home and she left it to Wil Tyler. The reasons for that are explained as the story unfolds.
One of the guests for the Christmas holidays wants to write Kim’s biography and there are a number of people present at the house that she wants to interview…Wil, who was like a daughter to Kim; Ade, her best friend; Felicity, housekeeper and stables owner; and as a bonus, one of Kim’s ex lovers.
However they are all keen to preserve their memories of Kim and the would-be-biographer finds herself increasingly frustrated at their lack of willingness to talk.
Memories surface throughout the story and this is one of Wil’s, the last serious conversation she had with Kim before going on an extended holiday to Rome:
…[Wil} arrived at the house to pick up a few things she needed and was dismayed to find Kim slumped on the floor in the study with an empty bottle of Glenfiddich at her feet. It wasn’t an unusual sight, and one that had become more frequent. With difficulty she managed to rouse Kim and get some coffee into her along with a few rounds of toast. They had gone for a walk, taking it slowly as Kim’s movements had the lethargy of someone wading through deep slushy snow.
It was up to Wil to keep a conversation going. She talked about the work she was doing for her master’s degree. After finishing with a first in her BA Honours degree in linguistics from UCL, she was continuing with more research on the Etruscan language. The subject fascinated her but she realised by the time they reached the pond at the edge of the woods that she’d lost Kim some time before.
“That’s great,” Kim said, when she stopped for breath. “But who are you screwing?”
Wil winced. It was almost word for word the same question Ade had asked her the week before. “No one special at the moment,” she said, repeating her reply to Ade.
“But you do have a sex life, I hope.”
“Sometimes. It’s just a distraction, though. I’m not ready for any long-term relationships.”
Kim gave a snort of something that might have been an attempt at laughter. “You mean you don’t want to follow my example. Sorry I’m such a shit role model.”
“It’s not that. I just haven’t met anyone I like that much.”
“What about the Chinese girl you brought down at Christmas?”
“Lin? Yeah, well she was sweet, but it was never going to last. She was just experimenting. I think she really just wanted to know if my pubes were the same colour as the hair on my head.”
Kim really did laugh then. They had reached the clearing and sat down opposite each other on the logs. Kim picked up a stick and poked at the ground between her feet.
“I want you to find someone who’ll love you.”
They’d had this conversation before and it disturbed Wil. She loved Kim and worried about her constantly, especially when she saw her looking as frail as she did now. Grace’s visits always left Kim in an unbalanced state of mind. She had recognised Grace’s lingering scent in the hallway when she’d arrived that morning. She went over to Kim and sat next to her.
“I will find someone. But I’m only twenty-one for fuck’s sake.”…
The clearing in the woods with log seating around a fire pit is still a special place for Wil. It’s where she goes when she wants to be on her own to think things through…the place where she feels a strong connection to Kim.
Next week’s blog: Introducing the guests
Read the beginning of Chapter 1 from Christmas at Winterbourne on the Affinity website. The book is due for release on 1 November 2016.
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