Combining the eloquence and compassion of great English storytellers such as Rosamunde Pilcher and Joanna Trollope with a keen sense for how we reconcile the present by connecting to our past, Judith Lennox comes to America with this international bestseller.
Rebecca Bennett, thirty-one, financially strapped and reeling from a disastrous love affair, has just taken on the biggest project of her career: writing the biography of Dame Tilda Franklin, considered England's angel to needy children.
Mining the past of this distinguished child welfare activist, Rebecca is amazed to discover a history riddled with the passion and pain of mysterious kin and unpredictable love. Delving further into Dame Tilda's life, Rebecca finds parallels with her own experience and begins to regard this woman as a soul mate. Soon a romance blossoms between Rebecca and Tilda's grandson, Patrick, and she is drawn even closer to the family. Yet, just as their relationship begins to grow, Rebecca uncovers a family secret that threatens to destroy her newfound love.
Set against the stark beauty of the Fen country and peopled with memorable characters, Some Old Lover's Ghost is an addictive novel of tragedy, recovery, healing, and love that will raise you up and touch your heart.
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About the Author
Judith Lennox is the author of seventeen novels. She lives in Cambridgeshire, England with her husband and three sons.
Read an Excerpt
After Toby had gone, I took the bouquet of flowers he had given me and flushed them one by one down the lavatory. Their petals floated on the surface of the water, smooth and pink and perfumed. Then I went to the dreary little room at the end of the corridor, and stared out of the window. It was raining, a dark, thin October drizzle that sheened the streets beyond the hospital. The television was on, but I didn't hear it. I heard only Toby's voice, saying, I don't think we should see so much of each other, Rebecca.
I had been unable to stop myself whispering, 'Please, Toby. Not now.' I had seen him flinch. Then he had said, 'It just hasn't felt right for a while. But because of the baby' and he had reddened, and looked away, and I had heard myself say coolly, 'Of course. If that's how you feel.' Anything rather than become an unwanted, burdensome, pitiable thing.
I turned away from the window. EastEnders was on the television, and a very young girl in a shabby dressing gown was curled in front of it, smoking. She offered me a cigarette, and I accepted one, though I hadn't smoked since university. On the side of the packet was written a slogan, smoking can damage the health of your unborn child, but that didn't matter any more. My poor little half-formed child had been, like the flowers, disposed of. I lit the cigarette, and closed my eyes, and saw petals floating on the water, pink and foetus-shaped.
After I was discharged from hospital I went back to my flat in Teddington. I rent the ground floor of one of the many Victorian villas that line the streets of west London. The rooms kitchen, bathroom, and bedsitting room had a dusty,unfamiliar look. There was a heap of letters by the front door, and the answerphone was blinking frantically. I disregarded both, and lay down on the bed, my coat wrapped around me.
I thought of Toby. I had first met Toby Came eighteen months ago, in South Kensington. There had been a sudden heavy rain shower, I had had no raincoat, and when a gentleman had drawn level with me and offered to share his umbrella, I had thankfully accepted. I say 'gentleman', an old-fashioned term, because Toby had looked, to me, every inch the gentleman Burberry and black city umbrella; short dark hair just touching his collar; old but expensive leather briefcase. I had guessed him to be around ten years older than me, and I had walked beside him, forgetting to dodge the puddles, hypnotized by his sudden smile and by the unmistakable interest in his eyes. When he suggested going for a drink to escape the rain, I accepted. By the time we parted, he had my name and telephone number. I had not expected him to phone, but he did, a few days later. I'd made him laugh, he explained. I was refreshing, different.
Toby had been my adventure. He had come from another world, and I had believed that our relationship would transform me. And it had, for awhile. With Toby, I had lost weight, had worn smarter clothes, and had my long hair lightened. I had worn high heels and had not tripped over them, and I had bought expensive make-up, the sort that stays where you put it on. I had visited Toby's parents' house in Surrey, and had pretended that I was used to sofas whose cushions did not fray, and bathrooms with matching towels. Together we had visited Amsterdam, Paris, and Brussels; together we had dined in expensive restaurants and been invited to fashionable parties. He introduced me to his lawyer friends as 'Rebecca Bennett, the biographer'; they tended to look blank, which he noticed after a while. He suggested I write a novel; I explained that I needed the solidity of history. He proposed, late and drunk one glorious summer's night, that we try for a baby, and when, a couple of months later, I told him that I was pregnant, he toasted the infant with the best champagne, but did not suggest that we move in together. And when, several weeks after that, I began to lose our baby at a dull but important dinner party, he seemed put out that I had chosen such a time, -such a place.
I had considered my remaking, which he had begun and I had colluded with, to be permanent. With one sentence I don't think we should see so much of each other he had reminded me of what I really was. My 'difference' had become tiresome or, worse, embarrassing. And I hadn't made him laugh for ages.
In the days after I came home from hospital, I did not leave the flat. I drank cups of tea and ate, when I could be bothered to eat, the contents of ancient forgotten tins that gathered dust at the back of the kitchen cupboard. I neither answered the telephone nor opened the post. The dull ache in my belly, a memento of the miscarriage, slowly faded. The panicky feeling, the sense that everything was falling apart, persisted. I slept as much as I could, though my dreams were punctuated by nightmares.
Then Jane turned up. Jane is my elder sister. She has two little boys aged one and three, and a cottage in Berkshire. A mild but persistent mutual envy has always been a part of our relationship. Jane hammered on the door until I opened it, then took one look at the frowsty squalor and at me, and said, 'Honestly, Becca, you are hopeless.' I burst into tears, and we hugged awkwardly, the products of a family not much given to displays of physical affection.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
this story will make a great movie. i loved all the characters and the makeup of each one of them is powerful to the storyline. who could play tilda and daraugh.
Our book club recently finished this book and everyone really is raving about it. Set during the time of WW1, the book has strong female characters, an involved plot, great twists, wonderful sentence structure and just a little bit of romance. Not a heavy book, but enough so that we all enjoyed the read and could still discuss the characters, moral situations, and plot of the story. I highly recommend it and can't wait to get more of Judith Lennox's books. Treat yourself to this book!
I think that everyone should read a book like this, it was in depth and passionate and detailed... i loved it! I'm going to read it again!
easy Victoria holt-style story in England. Interesting twists, happy end.
I enjoyed this book very much. It had mystery and romance, and was well written. A journalist goes to interview a famous Englishwoman, and becomes involved in her past as well as her present.
Excellent. Well worth my time and money. This is story of a writer investigating the life of a great woman. It has all types of twists and turns -with all kinds of emotional situations - love stories, tragedy, murder, betrayal, war, friendships, sacrifices, and more. Wonderful historical fiction. Other excellent writers to read after this would be: Margaret Mayhew, William Jarvis, Anne DeCourcy, Helen Forrester, Duncan Barrett, Iris Jones Simantel, Pamela Winfield, Eileen Townsend, Erik Larson,Laurie Graham, Melynda Jarrett, and Soraya Lane. I loved this book.