Excerpt - The Broken Road - Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn
Today I'm delighted to share an extract from the new book by Lindsay Stanberry Flynn - The Broken road. I love the cover but haven't been able to fit it into my reading schedule yet so am sharing this extract kindly provided by the author herself. It sounds lovely I hope you enjoy it.
What do you do when the past returns to haunt you?
When no one around you tells the truth?
Ollie’s life is in crisis. Estranged from his father when he refuses to take over the family hotel, his artistic career is floundering, and his marriage is under strain. His wife, Jess, blames him, but is she as innocent as she appears?
Louise, Ollie’s sister, takes on the hotel in his absence, testing her emotional fragility to the limit. She knows her father considers her to be second best, and her husband is hostile to her new role.
As the action moves between London, Plymouth and Venice, the family implodes under the weight of past betrayals, leading to a nail-biting, fast-paced climax.
In another emotionally compelling novel from the award-winning Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn, the complex ties that both bind us to family and drive us apart are laid bare. Can Ollie heal the fault-lines before it’s too late? Above all, can he salvage his relationship with his young daughter, Flo, before tragedy strikes?
Praise for Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn
Real insight into character Bel Mooney
The pages turn faster than an autumn leaf in the wind Reading Writes
If Ollie had been a lark, things would have been different. He envied larks: the glow of sainthood flooded their lives. They caught the worm; they got things done. If Ollie had been a lark, he’d have been up hours before his mobile buzzed at nine o’clock. He’d already have been for a run, dashed off half a dozen paintings, and made breakfast for Jess and Flo. But Ollie was an owl, not a lark, so he reached a hand from under the duvet, slammed the phone into silence and went back to sleep.
He was sorting through the paintings stacked in the hallway when it rang again. He let himself dream of good news. That new gallery in Highgate might be offering him an exhibition. Or there was a chance the American customer had come good and wanted to commission more of his Hampstead Heath scenes. He studied the painting in his hands: an avenue of lime trees in Alexandra Park. Sunshine pierced the canopy of leaves, spreading a lacework of light on the path below. He’d painted it during a period of inspiration last summer. Jess had loved it: ‘Hey, that’s good!’ she said. ‘You’ve got your magic back.’ She’d kissed him, the sort of kiss she used to give him when they first met.
A dog barked in the street below. A hacking, insistent noise, like a consumptive’s cough. It dragged him away from that summer day made forever idyllic by his painting. Traffic noise from the Holloway Road rumbled through the open window in the kitchen; a magpie screeched in the gardens behind the flats. The mobile had stopped, but rang again almost straight away. He propped the picture in front of the others and ran into the bedroom, snatching the phone from the chest of drawers.
It turns out the call is from Ollie’s father who has come up to London to visit and wants to meet. They don’t get on following Ollie’s refusal to take on the family hotel in Plymouth. Ollie agrees to meet him for a pub lunch, but the atmosphere is strained. And then ...
His father gripped the edge of the table, spreading his fingers wide. ‘But let’s cut to the chase, eh?’ A line of dark hairs sprouted above the knuckles, and the familiar gold signet ring decorated the little finger of his left hand. Physically, Ollie took after his mother’s side of the family, tall, skinny, dark-haired, but his hands with their wide palms and square-tipped fingers were identical to his father’s.
‘You haven’t been down to Plymouth for over a year.’
‘Our last meeting wasn’t exactly positive, was it?’ He fixed his eyes on his father’s face. ‘I seem to remember you said, “Don’t come back until you’re ready to discuss the next steps”.'
‘It’s breaking your mother’s heart, you know.’
‘Don’t do the emotional blackmail, Dad. I phoned Mum last week, and she’s fine.’ Ollie indicated the empty glass. ‘Another one?’
His father shook his head. ‘We need to talk business. I’m sixty-four this year. I’m getting tired, and I want to secure the future of the hotel.’
‘We’ve been through this before. You know how I feel.’
His father’s fingers drummed on the table. ‘I need you down in Plymouth, Oliver. One day the hotel will be yours –’
‘No, Dad!’ Ollie had been determined to keep his cool, but the words exploded from his mouth. The couple at the next table stopped talking and stared at him. ‘I’ve told you. I’m not interested in running the hotel.’
‘The South-West is renowned for its light. You could do a bit of painting on the side.’
‘I don’t want to do a bit of painting. I’m an artist; it’s all I’ve ever wanted to be.’
‘It’s your inheritance, Oliver. The hotel has been in the Anderson family for generations, father to son, father to son. You’re my first born –’
‘You’ve only got one child, Dad.’
‘What are you talking about? There’s you and Louise.’
‘The hotel has always been the only child you care about.'
‘Just because I took my responsibilities seriously. I regarded running the hotel as an honour and a privilege.’
‘Even at the expense of your family?’
‘You’re thirty-nine –’
‘Thanks, Dad. I’m well aware of my age.’
‘Come and join me in the hotel.’ Beads of sweat on his top lip were the only sign his father was agitated. ‘I can pay you a proper salary, show you the ropes, and when the time comes, you’ll be ready to take over.’
Ollie thumped his balled fists against his knees. ‘You haven’t listened to anything I’ve said. You can’t ride roughshod over other people’s feelings.’
‘I could have been all sorts of things. I was good at science. I’d like to have been an engineer.’
‘Then you should understand what it means to feel passionate about something.’
‘What I understand is duty. I promised your grandfather on his deathbed that I'd pass the hotel to you, his namesake. And it's your duty –'
'You can't promise on someone else's behalf, Dad.'
'A deathbed promise is sacred. I can still hear your grandfather's voice now: Another Oliver Anderson to take over the hotel. I can die in peace. You're asking me to break that.'
‘And you're trying to make me to feel guilty about something that was nothing to do with me.' Ollie jumped up, his hand knocking against the bottle. It crashed on the ground, and the glass splintered. ‘I’m not taking on the hotel, Dad. Sell it. Do whatever.’
His father looked up at him, grey eyes glinting in the sunlight. ‘I can’t believe it’s come to this. I always told your mother you’d see sense one day.’
‘Leave Mum out of it. Just because she’s had to do as she’s told, doesn’t mean I have to.’
His father stood up and faced him across the table. ‘You’ll regret that.’
Ollie dragged the band from his pony tail and shook his hair free. ‘I doubt I will, Dad. And you needn’t bother with the allowance any more. I don’t want your money.’
The silence grew around them and he sensed other people’s eyes on them. His father’s fists were clenching and unclenching. Their stares locked for several seconds. Then Ollie pushed back his chair and walked away.
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