A story of loss, love, guilt and ultimately hope and redemption, Miller Street SW22 follows a year in the lives of five neighbours who move into the street in the autumn of 2005, each brought to south west London for a new start. Catherine Wells, recently widowed, Sam Gough and his invalid wife, Lydia, and Violet Lawrence find themselves drawn together by Frances Chater into preparations for a centenary street party. The indomitable organiser, she compels them onto a committee and thus they begin to forge cautious friendships.
What they share with each other of their past lives, however, is limited. Both Catherine and Sam feel guilt for actions that haunt them whilst Frances has created a lie of a life, a substitute identity, in order to help her navigate the breakdown of her marriage. Only Violet, youthful and unfettered, is free of self-recrimination and duplicity. Meanwhile, in Brighton, Andrew Chater, Frances’ estranged husband, negotiates his new life in Pilgrim Square with his lover, Charlotte Prideaux, unaware that Frances is intent on destroying this relationship and regaining her place as his wife.
As the months pass and the date of the street party grows closer, Catherine, Sam and Frances are unaware of what lies ahead. For the past, they are to discover, is not as fixed and immovable as they have assumed. It can beguile. Ultimately, what is uncovered in the summer of 2006 offers each of them a future unimagined and an entirely new understanding of the past.
Format: ebook and paperback (13 January 2021)
Page Count: 277/392
10 THINGS ABOUT ME
BY JUDE HAYLAND
1. I am a city girl – born in London like numerous generations before me – and I lived there for many years, growing up, studying and working there. I am never happier than when in a city surrounded by people, buildings, shops, cafes and the hubbub of busy city life.
2. On the other hand, I have a permanent love affair with the island of Crete. Having spent numerous holidays there over the years I joined forces with family members 10 years ago to buy a house in a village in the north west of the island and now – in normal non-covid circumstances – spend as much time as I can there. It’s idyllic with views of the White Mountains and the coast nearby.
3. A sense of place is crucial to my novels – I love to write about places I know very well. My first novel, Counting the Ways is partly set on an island that I based on Crete although the name I give it in the novel is fictitious. Miller Street SW22? Well, I lived in various SW addresses at different times. The ‘22’ bit is fictitious, of course.
4. I am learning Modern Greek – and it is very, very difficult! I’m in my second year, but you wouldn’t think so if you heard me attempt to say even the most basic phrases.
5. I studied ballet when I was younger and still go to a couple of adult ballet classes every week – it’s satisfying still to be able to do a pirouette – on a good day! I love going to the ballet, theatre and cinemas – again in normal times.
6. Family is everything to me – I wanted lots of children, but life does not always go according to plan and I have one son – now adult – who is beyond precious to me.
7. I love clothes and have far too many in my wardrobe. I also love to cook – cakes in particular – always gluten free as I have coeliac disease.
8. My late father was an athlete and ran in the 1948 London Olympic games and became a sports journalist. I did not inherit his athletic prowess. In fact, my sole sporting achievement – if it can be called that – was running with my only sister in the London Marathon some years ago. We did not break any records with our time, but at least we finished which was our aim, raising money for the PSPA, a charity that promotes research and awareness of the degenerative disease that our mother suffered from. In fact, Lydia’s illness in Miller Street SW22 is entirely based on what we saw and experienced as a family during a difficult 8 years or so.
9. I have been working forever, it sometimes feels. I’ve had a long career combining teaching with writing and am still at it after several decades. English and Drama are my subjects – I knew I always wanted to do something that would give me an excuse to read as well as to write.
It would be good to think that the teaching will stop one day – but books, stories and the excuse to make up characters and imagine their lives are intrinsically part of who I am and I’m incapable of stopping.
10. I like to set my novels and short stories in the relatively recent past. (Miller Street SW22 is my most contemporary novel set in 2005/6) This is partly because times without mobile phones and the internet can be more productive for plots. Also, I like the sense of distance and there is a certain nostalgia, I suppose, looking back on a period I’ve lived through with the wisdom of hindsight.
My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invitation and place on the tour.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jude Hayland started her writing career as a commercial short story writer for women’s magazines. After over 25 years of being published widely both in the UK and internationally, she graduated with an M.A. in Creative Writing and switched to full length fiction. She has now written 3 novels and is working on her fourth.
Born in London, she now lives in Winchester although also spends a lot of time at a family house in a village in North West Crete. She is the proud mother of one adult son and, in addition to writing, blogging, tutoring and reading, is attempting to learn to speak Modern Greek.