Mabel Winston is the non-fiction Publishing Director in an international publishing house in one of the great American cities. She is confident, stylish, dedicated, a little aloof, but appealing. Some of her colleagues say her attractiveness accounts for the stunning success of the company’s non-fiction list. Few authors escape her spell. There’s a whisper she is now manoeuvring to bring the shaky fiction department under her supervision. Mabel does not comment on such spiteful asides, all duly reported to her by her faithful executive assistant Kitty. Success comes with a cost.
Her neat ordered, self-satisfied existence is disrupted and her confidence shaken when she sees Raf Donnelly at Raf’s mother’s funeral.
Raf and his twin sister Rebecca were neighbours, friends, and classmates. Rebecca was the sweetest girl, and she and Mabel remained close friends. Raf was different. He was sometimes as tender as his sister whom he adored. At other times he was a snarling tom cat, verbally destroying those who crossed him. And she was often a victim. She could not count the times he sent her home crying. He never used bad language and he wasn’t abusive. But his words would reach deep into her mind and shake her about like a helpless kitten. She could never understand it. And she could never understand how casually he hurt people – especially her.
A separation came when Mabel and Raf attended different universities. She enrolled in humanities and he, brilliant mathematician, in finance and economics. Then there was a complete break when Mabel flew off to spend a working year in Sydney. He didn’t even bother to wish her luck as did Rebecca. Instead he went off to drink himself stupid with his ignorant engineering mates. Later she heard he flew to London within a few weeks of her departure. For ten years, there was hardly a word about him. Only once did she hear her father allude to him with sorrow. He refused to explain.
Now Raf is back, troubling her, not exactly in the same way. He is quiet and brooding, slim and gaunt. and sparing with his comments. But he gnaws at her. He gnaws at her ties with others. Circumstances conspire to bring them together in London, Bath, and Sydney. Still she is beyond working it all out.
The writing is far advanced for a novel that the author attends to in spurts.
Manuscript complete mid-2020.
Cover is a temporary mock-up. The Pump Room in Bath features in the story.