Today it is my stop on The Square's blog tour, I am super excited to be participating in the tour and on The Book Corner today I have for you an extract from the novel.
Jane has the ideal life: loving husband, beautiful house and delightful son. Her fashionable dinner parties are perfect - and so are her secret assignations with her neighbour's husband, Jay.
From Tracey and her ‘New Money’ lottery winnings to eccentric artist Philip and his pornographic portraits, the residents of North London's most privileged enclave The Square are a very satisfied bunch.
To raise money for communal fencing, the Residents' Association decides to hold a Talent Show, produced by Jane and hosted by TV celebrity Alan Makin. But when the show lurches into public disarray, reputations are shattered and everyone has to learn to live with a far less glossy reality than before.
Publication Date: 1st August http://www.legendtimesgroup.co.uk/legend-press/books/634-the-square
The Square Extract – Chapter 3
The Residents’ Association Meeting
Harriet is standing at the island of her knock-through kitchen, laboriously putting small pieces of smoked salmon onto Philadelphia cheese which has been spread onto tiny circular pancakes. The fish is slippery and flaky. It does not fold out of the plastic wrapper in flat long flaps, but must be forked out in small shavings. This is because it is discount smoked salmon. Harriet’s fingers are covered in fish grease accented by a smear of Philly. They slip on the handle of the fork, making the tines poke into the soft mound of flesh between the first finger and thumb of her other hand.
She blows a strand of hair out of her mouth and raises her head, lips open, as if she was a turtle surfacing for air.
“Jay?” she yells, and then continues, not waiting for a reply.
“Have you got the Cava? Or Prosecco, or whatever it is? I left some in the fridge!”
Can’t afford Champagne. Can’t afford nice flat pages of proper, decent smoked salmon. Probably having a holiday in a bloody tent this year, thinks Harriet crossly, eating cream cheese out of the white plastic oval with a spoon.
Harriet is Jay’s wife. She is a large woman. Her body speaks of luxury and indulgence, of not stinting. Her breasts are voluminous. They cause her jumper to form an unbroken matronly reef across her chest. Her stomach sticks out, a collapsed box. Her haunches are dimpled, carrying a shape of their own unrelated to the line of bone buried deep within the copious flesh.
She and Jay came to the Square in what they now regard as the Good Old Days. The days when you could really get plastered on proper ’poo. When everyone had taxi accounts, and private schools, and decent holidays in Tuscany.
Harriet isn’t sure she really likes the current mood. A former teacher who gave up work when their only child, Brian, was born, she is wholly dependent on the money her husband earns. And he hasn’t been earning as much of late.
Harriet is having to be careful. She doesn’t like being careful. She doesn’t want to be careful about things like smoked salmon, or buying new bags. She likes having a new Mulberry handbag every winter. She doesn’t like camping. She doesn’t want to go on holiday to live in an Amish-style sense surrounded by tents and truly appalling food. She wants Italian villas, olive studded bread and the Widow Cliquot.
She eats a canapé and reflects that she doesn’t, really, like hosting meetings for the Residents’ Association on the Square either. But Jay insists. Says it’s good to ‘be neighbourly’. Jay loves his neighbours. Harriet doesn’t realise quite how much he does.
The door bell rings. She hears the sing-song welcome and the thud on the floor above of people taking off their shoes.
She pops another canapé into her mouth.
“Last one,” she says. Then she puts the plate of discount smoked salmon canapés onto a tray, and moves heavily to the sink to wash her hands. As she does, she makes sure to throw away the wrapper for the discount salmon. Can’t have anyone spotting it.
“Well, maybe one more.”
She eats a third, then stomps upstairs with the tray of canapés.
Rosie Millard is a journalist, writer and broadcaster. She was the BBC Arts Correspondent for ten years, since then she has been a profile writer at The Sunday Times, columnist for The Independent, arts editor of The New Statesman, theatre critic and feature writer. She makes TV and radio documentaries and appears as a commentator for a number of national TV shows. She is Chair of Hull City of Culture 2017.
Rosie has also written The Tastemakers, an exploration of the British contemporary art scene, and Bonnes Vacances!, a comic memoir about taking her family around the French Overseas Departments.