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Jane Yardley was brought up in Essex in the 1960s. She has a PhD from a London medical school and works on clinical projects around the globe. Her first novel, Painting Ruby Tuesday, (which was written on aeroplanes) was short-listed for the Guilford Arts First Novel Prize. Rainy Day Women is her second novel.
A professional family are trying to sell their house in Essex and move back to London but there seems to be a poltergeist which creates mayhem whenever prospective purchases view. Our narrator, 15-year old Jo, and her friend try to solve the mystery. What develops, in this darkly funny, original novel of a dysfunctional family, marvellously evokes a picture of teenagers growing up in the 70s. The characterisation is superb, highly recommended.Comparison: Kate Atkinson, Laurie Graham, Mavis Cheek.Similar this month: Andrew Rosenheim, Jonathan Tropper.
It is the summer of 1965. Annie Cradock, the only child of exacting parents who run the village school, is an imaginative girl with a head full of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Annie whiles away the school holiday with her friends: Ollie the rag-and-bone man (and more importantly his dog); the beautiful piano-playing Mrs Clitheroe who turns Beethoven into boogie-woogie (and like Annie sees music in colour); and Annie's best friend Babette - streetwise, loyal, and Annie's one solid link with common sense. But everything changes when the village is rocked by a series of murders and the girls know something they've no intention of telling the police. In the present day, adult Annie is a successful singing coach in a stifling marriage. Her ambitious American husband, impatient with his quirky wife, is taking a job in New York - but is she staying with him? As Annie struggles with her future, she first has to come to terms with the bizarre events of 1965.
The day Nina's father dies, she discovers an old music manuscript written in his hand and locked away in a desk. Her father was no musical genius, so where did this symphony come from, and what compelled him to keep it hidden? The answer lies in a web of deceit that reaches back forty years. Digging into her family's past, Nina is forced to reconsider her own traumatic childhood, when her father's chronic hypochondria nearly destroyed her family. Nina's sole refuge had been the home of her best friend, whose parents were world champions of ballroom dancing. There she had found relief in the glittering world of Argentinian tango. But as the symphony forces her to confront difficult questions about her past and her father's dark secret, Nina soon begins to wish she had never unlocked that desk . . .
It is 1969. London swings, men land on the moon, and thirteen-year-old Kim Tanner appears on Imogen's doorstep to announce she is her long-lost daughter. Imogen wrote a bestseller about the baby she was forced to give away, so there have been many contenders, but Kim is special, and she is convinced. Kim and her dog Welly move in with the beautiful, bohemian Imogen and proceed to bring order to chaos. Then along comes pretty, appealing Sukie, also claiming to be Imogen's child. Kim is determined to prove she is Imogen's daughter but when the starts digging she unearths a very murky story...
It is 1971 - hippies, hot pants and extraordinary footwear. Jo and her friend Frankie are fifteen, and they have a problem. Frankie's American mother, in England against her will, is determined to move out of the scruffy Essex village to civilized London. Jo's family would follow them if only they could sell their great rambling home, the Red House, but unfortunately, the house is putting up a fight. An architectural oddity built by an eighteenth-century madman to irritate his wife, it always did have a life of its own, but now its sinister goings-on are driving prospective buyers away. The capable Jo has always coped with her eccentric family but they're getting worse. Even more disturbing, Jo and Frankie are convinced that there's been a murder on the premises. As the Red House crumbles around them, the girls are determined to get to the bottom of the mystery so the Starkey family can sell up and start an ordinary life. But along comes the devastatingly attractive Florian, folk singer and opportunist, to cause a chaos all of his own... RAINY DAY WOMEN is a black comedy in which teenaged hopes, fears and egomaniacal tunnel vision are played out against the background of a seriously dysfunctional family, some of its members deeply loveable - and some of them not.