The week of her fiftieth birthday would always be one to remember. First Lydia "Liddy" Claver lost her teaching job. Then she learned that her husband of thirty years was having an affair with one of her friends. But all that paled to the discovery that, she was not, as she had thought, menopausal, but instead in the third trimester of pregnancy. Mustering her courage, Liddy must reconcile the impending arrival and its ramifications to the husband she loves (but hasn't slept with in five years), to her three grown children, and above all, herself.
Finding herself in a situation where nearly everyone is willing to offer her an opinion, but no one is willing to consider hers, Liddy, six months pregnant, sets off on a journey that starts in sorrow and confusion and ends - with complications all along the way - with Hope.
Completely captivating, Hoping for Hope introduces an honest-to-goodness storyteller in author Lucy Clare. Beyond a splendid talent for both dialogue and character, Clare has devised an unforgettable plot that will have readers buzzing and wondering exactly what is going to happen as this highly original novel of love, family, and obligation carries them to its end.
Author Biography: Lucy Clare is married, over fifty, and the mother of four grown children. Hoping for Hope is her first novel.
|Product dimensions:||4.32(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.88(d)|
Read an Excerpt
It was, by anyone's standards, a watershed of a week. Or, more accurately, a week of watersheds. It had started quite promisingly with the purchase of a much sought-after pair of bright red Doc Martens, but it had deteriorated alarmingly after that. Liddy Claver would not forget this particular week-ever.
"Council cutbacks, I'm afraid," Rosa, the head of the Adult Education Institute, said with a sigh. "No more evening classes in anything that is not going to further this country's industry-and jewelry making is not a prime target for resources." She pronounced it re-sources, which at that particular moment annoyed Liddy rather more than the implications of her redundancy.
"I'm sorry, Liddy," Rosa went on, wearily dragging her beige cardigan round her chest as though for protection. "Adult education is being moved to another site and there is no accommodation for your classes. Computers yes, car maintenance yes, one upholstery class for the bored middle classes yes, but jewelry making no. I am so sorry." She shrugged helplessly.
Liddy, in a mirror image, shrugged back.
"Oh, well, I shall just have to find some other way of earning my living," she said with a faint but brave smile. "At least I'll have more time to make my own stuff, I suppose."
"Thank you for all your work. Your classes have been very popular," Rosa said formally.
Well, not that popular obviously, Liddy thought as she clattered down the stone stairs of the primary school, or I would have been moved to the new site along with car maintenance.
"I thought perhaps I should consider HRT," she said to the doctor. "I'm sure I'm menopausal because I haven't had a period for months." She paused, remembering how her eldest daughter had recently castigated her for calling it "the curse."
"You really should stop calling it the curse, Mum, it's like talking about O levels."
"I get terrible backaches, I'm moody and I've put on a bit of weight," Liddy went on now.
The doctor raised a delicate eyebrow.
"You've always had a little trouble with your weight, though, haven't you?" she said in a slightly accusatory tone, "and certainly there is often a thickening at this time of life. You are how old?"
"Forty-nine. Fifty the day after tomorrow."
"And do you know when your mother started her menopause?"
Liddy shook her head.
"No, she died when I was much younger, when I still believed myself invincible. I was never going to be menopausal, of course, so I wouldn't have thought of asking her about it." Liddy made a face to convey self-deprecation. "Anyway," she added, "it wasn't the sort of conversation my mother and I ever had."
The doctor gave a wintry smile. She had been Liddy's doctor for over seven years, but Liddy still found her disconcertingly uncozy and uncommunicative. Liddy was depressed that this was the woman with whom she had to discuss the possibility of going on HRT.
"I'm not really very happy about the idea," she said. "It seems such a big step. I hate the idea of mucking about with my hormones. And bleeding every month-and even growing hair, someone told me."
"How much do you know about the drug?" the doctor asked severely.
"Have you read up about it?"
"No, but my friends and I seem to have stopped discussing education and parking problems and now discuss HRT and osteoporosis."
The doctor took a leaflet out of her drawer and handed it to Liddy.
"Well, you'd better read this and come back when you've decided."
"What do you think?" Liddy asked, desperately looking for professional guidance.
"It has to be your decision and you do need to have all the facts to make it."
Liddy wanted to ask the doctor whether she was taking HRT; she wanted to ask all the silly little questions that were so important. Will I get fat? Will I really look younger? Will I want sex all the time? Will I bleed a lot? Will I get hairy nostrils?
"It's all in there," the doctor said almost irritably, gesturing to the leaflet Liddy was turning around nervously in her hands. "Anyway, I'll take a look at you while you're here. Weigh you, take your blood pressure. Do you check your breasts regularly?"
Liddy winced as she stood on the scales. Why do you always weigh more on doctors' scales than on your own?
The doctor listened to her heart and chest, took her blood pressure and then deftly spread her hands over Liddy's breasts.
"I know. Even they've put on weight," Liddy said with a guilty smile.
"Slip your shirt up and lie down, would you? I'll just take a look."
Liddy lay back. The doctor palpated her stomach and Liddy thought she saw a thoughtful frown cross her face. Liddy felt the palms of her hands become sweaty and her heart start beating quickly.
My God, Liddy thought in a white panic, she's found a lump and it's cancer. She's found an enormous tumor. It's in my stomach, which is why I've got fatter and why I feel tired all the time and it will be inoperable and I'm going to die . . . and I haven't even made a will.
"Could you be pregnant?"
Such a simple question, easily answered almost without thought.
"Me? No, absolutely not."
The doctor reached out for a blue box and unraveled a long probe. She covered Liddy's stomach in cold jelly and held the probe on to her white flesh. The sound of slurpy swirling filled the room and Liddy became aware of a regular beat coming through the gurgles. The doctor looked at her questioningly. "Can you hear that?"
Liddy nodded. "Sounds like my heart."
My God, she thought wildly, tumors don't have heartbeats. So it's my heart. I've got something wrong with my heart. I shall have to have a bypass or a transplant and I shall never be able to go upstairs again.
The doctor spoke in a deadpan voice. "That's a fetal heartbeat, Liddy. You are pregnant."
She looked at Liddy as if to gauge her reaction, but at that moment Liddy reacted not at all. She just stared back at the woman.
Still supine, Liddy looked up and watched the doctor's arm as she leaned over her and picked up a tape measure from the shelf above. The doctor's short sleeves moved and, from her submissive position, Liddy could see her white bra underneath and she felt as though she were prying into the doctor's private places. The doctor measured her from the top of her uterus to her pubic bone. This was suddenly so familiar.
"About thirty weeks, I would say, but the scan will confirm your dates. It is unusual to conceive at your age," the doctor went on in her clear, clinical voice, "but your blood pressure is more or less normal and you seem perfectly well. The worry is the baby having had no prenatal care. You must have a detailed scan immediately and see the consultant obstetrician. We need to know how the baby is."
Liddy sat up. "But I can't be. I've had all my babies. I'm a grandmother. I'm much too old now."
"Well, you're not, obviously. It doesn't often happen, but it is quite possible, as you have proved."
"But I can have an abortion, can't I?" Liddy felt as though she had stepped outside her body and was watching a pregnant someone else asking these questions.
The doctor shook her head. "I'm afraid not; it's definitely too late. You wouldn't find anyone prepared to terminate at this late stage."
Liddy sat as in spasm, her brain refusing to function as she watched the doctor make a telephone call to the consultant obstetrician.
"She should be seen as soon as possible," Liddy heard the doctor say from somewhere distant outside her head. She watched her fill out a form, write a letter and put the papers into an envelope.
"They'll see you at the clinic ten o'clock tomorrow. They're expecting you. Give them this"-she handed Liddy the letter-"and make an appointment with me next week."
The doctor opened the office door for her and for a brief, soft moment reached out to Liddy in sympathy. It was almost as if she didn't know how to begin acknowledging the magnitude of what her patient had just found out.
"It's a shock for you, I know. But you're healthy and I hope, I'm sure we'll find the baby is, too. Your previous pregnancies were all quite straightforward, weren't they?"
But those pregnancies were in another lifetime, Liddy thought as she stumbled out of the room. She had this strange feeling that the pale green walls of the doctor's office had completely filled her head-she could see only pale green, hear pale green, feel pale green.
Liddy sat in her car in the parking lot and her brain slowly cranked into life. She thought in short, sharp sentences.
So I haven't got cancer or heart disease. That's good. I am pregnant. No, that's not good. My husband and I have not had sex for five years.
Mary poured Liddy a glass of wine. "If you've been drinking your way through six months of pregnancy, one more bottle isn't going to harm it. It'll help with the shock," she said firmly.
Liddy had fled straight from the doctor's office to Mary's house. Mary-her very dearest friend with whom she shared everything. She had been painting in her studio when Liddy had rushed in, blurting out her news in blind terror.
"And Martin will know it's not his," were Mary's first, succinct words as she turned to put her brushes into a jam jar of turps, then gently led Liddy into the kitchen.
"How could this happen to me?" Liddy shook her head.
Now that she had told, it suddenly became real and permanent-the fuzzy pale-green dream in which she had been enveloped since being in the office had broken up and Liddy thought she had never felt such panic and distress. The worst thing was the realization that no one, not even Mary, could make it better for her.
Mary spoke slowly and thoughtfully in her gentle voice. "I suppose there is always the possibility you may not be so far gone as the doctor thinks."
"She seemed pretty certain."
"Well, you are going to have to think this through, Liddy, before you have the scan-you should know what you're going to do, because I think sometimes it's easier to make plans while there is still a possibility that you might not have to use them."
"Why was I so stupid?" Liddy whimpered. "Why didn't I think?"
Because Liddy had never thought to think. She had been too transported by the brief, glorious affair with pretty Barney-the same age as her son-who had found her sexy, desirable and seemingly irresistible. And who had made her laugh with his mad energy and bad jokes.
He had arrived in her jewelry class last September-wandered in, tall and slouching, in a scruffy tartan jacket, his thick straw hair beaded with autumn rain and his stubbly face creased in a wide smile. The five young mothers and two young girls in the class had all looked up at him with interest. Only Geoffrey, the elderly man who was trying to make a silver-wedding present for his wife, remained head down over his work at the bench.
"Jewelry?" Barney had asked briefly.
Liddy had nodded and they had smiled together, both recognizing something in the other.
He was a cobbler by trade, making clogs, boots and leather bags, selling them at markets and music festivals. He wanted, it seemed, to increase his repertoire and learn the basics of jewelry making. With the arrogance of youth, he had arbitrarily decided that he could easily learn all that was necessary to make jewelry, so he had paid for only one term.
By the middle of the first term, Barney had signed on for the rest of the year and he and Liddy had had their first fuck, up against a wall in the classroom after everyone had gone home. They had only just not been caught by the caretaker rattling his keys.
For Liddy, whose sexual urges had apparently lain dormant for five years, it was a most exhilarating experience. She still often replayed the memory of the immediate sexual frisson between them, and remembered the electric moment when the flirting became something more; when she realized that her life had been ambushed and that an affair with Barney was not only possible but also inevitable.
Her greatest surprise was that in the end it was no surprise. It was as though she knew the moment she saw Barney what would happen between them.
"Why?" she had asked after the first time. "I'm fat and forty-nine."
"You're not fat, you're just big. And I knew you the minute I walked in here. Just like you knew me," Barney had mumbled into her neck. "I've never met a woman like you before. You're generous and you're sensuous. You know what to do with your body-and with mine."
She felt silky and beautiful once again: her skin glowed, her hair shone-she cared what she looked like and she liked how she looked. Her heart jumped and her hands shook when she caught sight of him. Awake, she thought about sex with him, and in her sleep he insinuated himself into all her dreams. And every day for three months she smiled plump, contented smiles into her mirror.
Barney, he told her, lived with his girlfriend and also with a lodger who seemed to spend all his time in front of afternoon television learning how to make chocolate cakes and restore old cupboards. It was because of the sedentary nature of the lodger that Barney and Liddy spent the next few months having furtive sex in the car, the municipal park, the attic of a building site and in a garage.
It was such good sex, too-once Liddy had realized that Barney, a child of the curiously repressed nineties, could be released from such a conventional attitude to the physical act of lovemaking. As her confidence grew, she began to rediscover her long-abandoned hippie philosophy. Barney's youth and strength seemed to liberate her free spirit and, from outside her head, she could see herself behaving like an irresponsible young woman. But inside, his obvious admiration for her became a heady drug that she simply could not resist.
And it wasn't just sex. The more they talked, the more Liddy felt released to be what she considered her real self. No longer limited to being a wife, a mother and a grandmother, she became someone else: someone young, thoughtless and carefree-her own creation. It was like being on a roller coaster that was going faster and faster. The ride stopped only when it became clear that Barney was convinced he was in love with her and was quite prepared to ditch his girlfriend. Liddy was scared then. His declaration of love made her realize that she, too, was in danger of becoming seriously attached. Suddenly their relationship was becoming frighteningly real, no longer a game. Sanity replaced the brief madness that had captured her, and Liddy, with much sadness and needing a great deal of strength, put a stop to their relationship. Feeling as though she were returning a wonderful Christmas present, she tried to unravel the affair without diminishing the relationship that Barney thought they had. It was one of the most difficult things Liddy had ever had to do and also served to remind her never to repeat the experience. It was, in the end, an acrimonious parting, one that Barney, unable to accept that she was not prepared even to think about leaving her husband for him, failed to achieve cleanly and, for a while, he hung around Liddy's classes being alternately aggressive and pleading. Then one day, he didn't turn up; he just disappeared and Liddy, whose head and heart, for those few months, had been completely hijacked by Barney, felt empty and dull again.
That had been over five months ago.
"How could I have not known that I was pregnant?" Liddy asked Mary. "I feel like a bloody stupid teenager."
"Didn't you feel sick at all? Have you not felt it move?"
Liddy shrugged. "I don't think so. I don't remember. Any twinge or anything, I just put down to my age. I've had heartburn occasionally, but I thought that was just wind and I've often had that. I have put on a bit of weight, I suppose, but you know me, always getting fatter and then dieting. Done it all my life. But I should at least have wondered. Being pregnant just never occurred to me." She buried her hands in her head and the tears fell through her fingers. "Oh, God, what am I going to do, Mary? I've blown everything. I thought I'd got away with it. I knew I didn't deserve to, but I thought I had and that Martin would never know about Barney. Oh, God, God, God. I can't tell him about it."
-Reprinted from Hoping for Hope by Lucy Clare by permission of Dutton, a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc. Copyright © Lucy Clare Woolley, 2001. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced without permission.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I really found this story to be a very good read it is not a hard book to read and It also is believable. I couldn't help but feel for every charecter in the book I could understand how each of them felt and how they ended up in the places that they were. Liddy has to have had one of the worst weeks of any person alive I can't imagine how hard it would be to be turning 50 and find out that you are pregnant and not by your husband either. Liddy has three grown children who also have their own set of problems but it seems that this baby that in the beginning seems to Liddy to be the end of the world ends up being just what her family needed to help them throuh this slump that they have all fallen into . This baby seems to save everyone in the family in a different way.
This her first book that I read and will read more of her other books... Really like this book.
Liddy Claver thinks she is going through the change. Well, in a way she is, just not what she thinks. At fifty, she is pregnant and learns that her husband is cheating on her with a friend. What's more, the baby's father is not her husband, just a much younger man she had a fling with several months ago. She is also now jobless, her adult ed class having been eliminated. ........... Before Liddy can find the courage to tell her husband, or anyone in her family what has happened, her lesbian, very old aunt needs her to come and take care of her while she recovers from an illness. On her way back home, Liddy goes into premature labor and winds up having to stay in Cornwall a bit longer. Hope, her new child, is almost two weeks old before anyone in the family other than the aunt finds out about her. .......... Liddy's husband is hurt and leaves her. Her grown children's reactions are varied. For their own reasons, each wants to adopt Hope. One daughter sees the baby as a way to save her flagging relationship with her male roommate. The gay son finds her the ideal solution to his and his partner's desire for a baby. The last daughter feels obligated to adopt Hope, as she is the only one with a stable home and family. While all these generous offers are touching, perhaps, Liddy feels quite capable of taking care of her daughter herself. That remains to be seen. ............ ***** Unlike most British imports, this novel does not confuse the American reader with unfamiliar terms. Liddy's situation is a unique one, and so is her family. With guts and determination, she handles a life where if it's not one thing, it's three, with grace and aplomb. Humor and tears will be replete in this too unreal not to be real book. *****