Hi guys, and happy Monday! And guess what? Yes! I have a new blog tour for you today! I am incredibly thrilled to have an extract from Catherine Ferguson’s brand new shiny novel “The Secrets of Ivy Garden” to share with you – the title of this book is just perfect for this lovely spring day, don’t you think? So put your feet high, make yourself latte and enjoy!
‘Go,’ she hisses, handing me a ramekin of strawberry jam. ‘Your job’s here whenever you decide you want to come back, okay? Whether that’s in a month or even in six months’ time.’
Her kindness is too much. I have to get away before I break down and make a complete fool of myself.
‘Thank you,’ I mouth. Then I rush over to Betty with the jam, collect my coat and bag from the cloakroom and step outside into the blustery spring day. It’s a wrench leaving the cosy warmth of the café behind, and as the bell on the door jangles behind me and a cool breeze lifts my hair, I wonder with a pang how long it will be before I cross the threshold again. With her daily dose of light chit-chat and practical good sense, Patty has almost single-handedly kept me sane.
Ivy died on 14th December from a massive heart attack.
My memory of the run-up to Christmas and beyond is a bit of a blur, but I do remember refusing to leave my flat, despite offers from my best friends, Beth and Vicki – and also Patty – to spend Christmas with them. After the funeral in early January, I went straight back to work, even though Patty told me I needed more time to grieve. I convinced her that work was good therapy. And so for the past few months, I’ve slipped into a safe routine: keeping busy all day at the café, going home to eat and mindlessly watch TV, then sitting in the darkened kitchen, with just the pool of light from an Anglepoise lamp, to do my sketching, hour after hour, often until well after midnight when my eyes are stinging. I know if I go to bed too early, I’ll only end up lying there, staring into the darkness, fretting about the future.
I’ve always loved painting and sketching, and now it’s proving to be an absolute life-line. Ivy’s big dream for me was to study art at college when I left school. She used to say being an artist was my ‘calling’ because my paintings made people think about life and gave them pleasure. But however much I might have wanted to pursue my art as a career, I knew it was never going to be a practical option because we didn’t have the money. When Patty offered to promote me from Saturday girl to full-time staff when I was sixteen, I jumped at the chance, and I’m still there.
I still sketch, though, especially now. When I’m focused on drawing the perfect foxglove, it’s easier to keep the dark thoughts at bay.
I’ve always been the sort of practical, clear-headed person people can count on in a crisis. But since Ivy died, I’ve felt vulnerable and far less sure of myself. My insides shift queasily every time I think of making that long train journey south, leaving behind everything that’s familiar. Even telling myself it’s just for a few weeks, and then I’ll be safely back home, doesn’t seem to make any difference.
How can I bear to stay in Moonbeam Cottage if Ivy’s not there?
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