🌸 Hi everyone,
Thank you for joining me today on Sue Watson’s, We’ll Always Have Paris Blog Tour.
Today, I’m supposed to be giving you a review along with all the book details, but unfortunately, I’m not. Without going into too much detail, the storyline is just far too close to home for me right now and I was unable to finish reading the book. Please don’t take that as me saying it’s not a good book because that couldn’t be further from the truth. Me and my family are going through one of the hardest times in our lives right now and I just could not take my personal circumstances out of my mind whilst reading. I think me doing that is enough to tell you how good and strong the writing skills of Sue Watson are for me to be affected so badly.
Anyway, moving on…
So, instead of a review I’ve got an extract for you🙌
Shall we get started?
🌸 Blurb: Does first love deserve a second chance?
When she was almost seventeen, Rosie Draper locked eyes with a charismatic student called Peter during their first week at art college, changing the course of her life forever. Now, on the cusp of sixty-five and recently widowed, Rosie is slowly coming to terms with a new future. And after a chance encounter with Peter, forty-seven years later, they both begin to wonder ‘what if’ . . .
Told with warmth, wit and humour, We’ll Always Have Parisis a charming, moving and uplifting novel about two people; the choices they make, the lives they lead and the love they share.
🌸 Links to buy:
🌸 Book Details:
Title: We’ll Always Have Paris
Author: Sue Watson
Genre: General Fiction
Length: 416 pages
• ebook: June 27 2016
• Paperback: March 23 2017
🌸 Extract: Prologue
All he wants is pineapple yoghurt. It might be his dying wish and I can’t find a pot anywhere. It’s the least I can do for my husband, now lying in bed at home with nothing left of his life, just a tube in his arm and a vague desire for pineapple in fermented milk.
I’ve trawled all local supermarkets and convenience stores and am now screeching into a parking space at a Tesco too far away. I stop for three seconds, calm myself and check my watch. I’ve been gone fifty-three minutes. I miss him already.
Almost falling out of the car I run through the car park, winding round shopping trolleys and kids and harassed parents, my hair unbrushed, my face without make-up, but it doesn’t matter. In the great scheme of things lipstick is nothing. Once through the doors, I land somewhere near the chilled cabinets. It’s strange being here on a Friday night when everyone is buying burgers and beer for weekend barbecues and family get-togethers.
I haven’t been anywhere or done anything for weeks, just moved between the window and the bed in the sitting room around which my life has revolved, watching and waiting, torn between needing to leave and needing to stay. For two days now Mike’s lain still, emerging only now and then from a deep drug-induced sleep to have a water-soaked sponge pressed against his lips, his forehead. I stopped the visitors a week ago, trooping to his bed in a convoy of sympathy, long faces filled with posed pity. ‘It’s like having an audience with the queen,’ I said to him when the last of the gawkers had gone. I was trying to make him laugh, my default position in times of upset, but he’d gazed ahead, beyond laughter, beyond me – his shiny scalp ravaged by chemo, charcoal grey etched under faded eyes.
Earlier today, when his eyelids flickered open for the first time in two days, I had leapt at the chance to make him happy, to make him smile one more time and asked if there was anything he wanted. When he whispered, ‘Pineapple yoghurt,’ I dropped everything. Anna took my place by the bed and I ran as fast as I could, away from the dreadfulness, knowing as soon as I shut the front door I would feel the need to go back.
It had all happened so quickly after the diagnosis. ‘I think we’re looking at weeks rather than months,’ the doctor had said.
I’d stared at his glasses sitting on the bridge of his nose, unable to turn and look at Mike; I didn’t want to see his reaction, that would make it too real. ‘But what about treatment?’ I said. ‘You can’t just say that . . . surely there’s something we can . . . ’
The doctor shifted uneasily in his seat and Mike’s hand covered mine.
‘It’s too far gone,’ he said gently. ‘You heard what the doctor said.’
On the way home we talked and by the time we pulled up outside we’d convinced each other things weren’t as bad as we’d thought.
‘We’ll sell the business, remortgage the house and get you treatment in America,’ I was still saying stupidly, refusing to accept what was happening.
spend that money on us, take some time off, or pass the business down to the girls and travel. It’s not like we haven’t thought about it . . . we’ll just do it sooner,’ he’d said. I’d been swept along by Mike’s enthusiasm, his desperate need to live – okay, so the doctor had given him only six weeks, but what did he know?
The following day I discovered Mike in the bathroom coughing up blood and I knew it was too late.
The girls sobbed as we told them the news, the tableau of him sitting on the sofa, his arms round both of them, reassuring, comforting, will stay with me for ever.
Six weeks later he’s still here and I’ve tried to make every moment special. Even now, with this pot of bloody yoghurt, I’m trying to show him how much I love him. Stupid really, but I want him to take my love with him wherever he’s going, like a packed lunch of all his favourite things. I want to send him off feeling loved. That’s all any of us want in the end, isn’t it? I try and keep up a brave front for him and the girls, but I can barely comprehend what’s happening. After forty-six years, Mike, the man who held me in the night, built garden walls, put the bins out and slayed life’s dragons, is now frail and scared. Now he wants me to hold his hand and tell him it’s all going to be okay. Each day I tell him I love him, and I do – but it makes me incredibly sad, because we both know my husband hasn’t been the love of my life.
It occurs to me while running blindly round this alien Tesco, looking through the chilled cabinets, that it may be a ruse. Perhaps Mike knows his time is imminent and he can’t bear to watch my pain so he’s sent me on an impossible quest? Perhaps he knows how futile the pursuit of pineapple yoghurt will be and in a final and typical act of selflessness he’s planned it all so he can slip off his mortal coil without me being there?
This puts me in a further state of panic and seeing a young shelf stacker I demand to know the fate of the yoghurts. ‘Do they even make pineapple ones any more?’ I ask the bemused young man. He shrugs. He doesn’t care because pineapple yoghurt isn’t something one gives any consideration to until it becomes perhaps the last wish of a dying man. So I continue on alone, rifling frantically through the strange-sounding names – Nestlé, Yoplait and Müller Light – hoping that one, just one, might contain the Holy Grail.
Mike and I will laugh about this one day, I think, instantly realising that we won’t.
I move on, restraining myself from pushing other shoppers out of the way and emptying the shelves with one sweeping arm movement. It’s now eleven minutes past seven on a Friday evening, but I don’t care – time and place have lost all meaning. We are existing in a state of limbo – waiting for the end, the agony of loss, tinged with the guilt of relief when it’s finally over – he is finally over.
‘I couldn’t get the pineapple, they had mandarin . . . with chocolate chips . . . can you believe?’ I start, as I open the front door and run into the living room holding my breath that he’s still here.
‘Ssshh, Dad’s asleep,’ Anna hisses, whipping her head round accusingly. I feel stupid and selfish and thoughtless – like my announcement about mandarin yoghurt might just be the final blow that convinces him to let go.
I immediately shed the panic and Friday night bustle and sink into the churchlike atmosphere, silently pulling up a chair to Mike’s bed. I’m now sitting next to Isobel, my younger daughter, who looks at me through red-rimmed eyes; the crease in her smile causes tears to run down her cheeks and I gently stroke her arm. Isobel is like me – during difficult times she reaches for others to lean on, and Mike has always been that person for me. Anna, my eldest, is just like him, and in the bleakest of times she finds comfort in ‘managing’ situations and people, channelling her distress into tidying up and organising, for which I have always been deeply grateful. We all need an Anna and a Mike in our lives.
I reach out and touch Mike’s hand, continuing to stroke Isobel’s arm with my other, and looking at Anna for signs of stress, stretching myself and my love as far and wide as I can.
‘You okay, Mum?’ Isobel mumbles.
I nod, trying to hide the catch in my breath, and she looks at me questioningly, like I have all the answers. I’m reminded of a rainy day, the squeal of tyres and our dog Willow dying by the side of the road, the rain beating down as I cradle her and a sobbing, five-year-old Isobel. I am rocking them both, my hair plastered to my face, the tears and the rain washing together, I’m trying to hide my despair: ‘It’s okay, Willow’s in heaven now, she’s playing ball.’
‘But she doesn’t want to stay . . . she’s scared without me, she wants to come home. Bring her back, Mummy.’ The lisping baby voice, the trembling chin.
‘I’m sorry, darling, I can’t do that,’ I say through my tears, the blood now mixing with rainwater and running away together along the gutter.
Now, as her father’s life ebbs away, Isobel is looking at me in the same way – but I still can’t take her pain away.
We continue to sit in silence round the bed while Mike sleeps; he stirs occasionally and groans when the pain pushes on through the morphine. The cancer came quickly, a small lump in February, a routine visit to the doctor, followed by an inconvenient trip to the hospital, then tests. Each appointment more serious, more scary, until results day. Hard to imagine now, but I recall feeling slightly disgruntled that the hospital appointment for Mike’s test results was on a Friday, the day before a big wedding, and a busy time for our small florists.
‘Can you change the appointment?’ I’d sighed, stressed with the workload before us.
‘No,’ he said. ‘I could do with you there, Rosie.’ I looked up from the carnation buttonholes and saw his face and in that instant everything changed for me. If Mike was worried, I was worried.
I couldn’t let the girls see my fear and kept telling myself and everyone else that it was ‘probably nothing’. Yet somehow I knew.
When it finally happened and his life ended, I felt like mine had too.
🌸 Author Details:
Sue Watson was a journalist on women’s magazines and national newspapers before working in a career in TV where she was a producer with the BBC. She has published sixnovels, her most well-known being Love, Lies and Lemon Cake. Originally from Manchester, Sue now lives in the Midlands and writes full time. You can contact Sue via her website or social media. Links below.
Once again, thank you for joining me today. I hope you’ll support Sue and go buy this charming, heartfelt and emotional book.
Shout out to Sue herself for being so understanding, and of course to the lovely Clara over at LB for asking me to join the tour. Always appreciated.
Love, N 😘