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Born in London, Susan Stairs has lived in Ireland since early childhood. Involved in the art business for many years, she has written extensively about Irish art and artists. She received an MA in Creative Writing from University College Dublin in 2009 and was shortlisted for the Davy Byrnes Irish Writing Award in the same year. She lives in Dublin with her family. The Story of Before is her first novel.
I wonder today how no one else could see the bad thing coming. Not that I knew back then what the bad thing was; and if I had - if I'd known one of us was going to die - would there have been anything I could have done to prevent it? I play it all back in my mind, over and over. The clues were all there. On New Year's Eve, eleven-year-old Ruth and her brother and sister sit at a bedroom window, watching the garden of their new Dublin home being covered in a thick blanket of snow. Ruth declares that a bad thing will happen in the coming year - she's sure of it. But she cannot see the outline of that thing. She cannot know that it will change their lives utterly, that the shape of their future will be carved into two parts; the before and the after. Or that it will break her heart and her family. This is Ruth's story. It is the story of before.
'Simmering with repressed rage from the off, this complex tale of revenge, betrayal and loss is an absolute cracker' Sunday Independent One Good Reason is a gripping human drama about revenge, family secrets, and lies that can ripple beneath the surface of successful lives, waiting to be disclosed. Laura has never been like other girls. She thinks about sadness rather than feeling it. Anger, jealousy, deceit - they just seem more useful. So when her family unit is shattered after a violent break-in to their home, she becomes intent on getting even. The perpetrators have walked away unpunished but her father wasn't so lucky, falling prey to a fatal heart attack in the aftermath. Paddy Skellion - father of one of the offenders - is a renowned artist, who will go a long way to protect his reputation. When Laura's mother Angela gives her daughter her blessing to travel to the South of France, to visit the family in the hope of an apology, she knows little of Laura's true intent. Laura has one good reason to enter their lives in ways they can't foresee. But even the best laid plans don't always go as intended...
When Orla is handed an envelope by her father, she is perplexed by what she finds - a photograph of her parents, taken the summer she was born. Her heavily expectant mother, unusually, is smiling. Between her parents stands a teenage boy, her mother's arm lovingly around him. Orla later asks her father about the boy's identity, but he refuses to be drawn. Her mother's mood is low again and he doesn't want her upset. So begins the daughter's investigation, back to the summer of 1983, and the story of a young English boy on holidays in rural Ireland. As the circle closes on a web of tragedy and deceit, the truth that emerges will impact on all their lives. The Boy Between is an expertly crafted, suspenseful and ultimately hopeful story of family secrets, a fateful summer, and the long-buried events of a distant past.
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