Blog Tour: Extract from The Postcard by Fern Britton

Today on Becca's Books, I'm delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for Fern Britton's new novel The Postcard. On my stop, I'll be sharing an extract from Chapter One of the novel, and I really hope you enjoy it!
1
Penny Leighton didn’t feel right. She hadn’t been feeling right for a long time now. She couldn’t remember how long it had been since she had felt right.
She was lying in her big marital bed. The Cornish winter sun had not yet risen and she could see the dark sky through a crack in her exuberant poppy curtains. She’d thought them so cheerful when she’d bought them. She looked at them now and closed her eyes.
She had to get up. She had an important call to take at eleven o’clock. She opened her eyes and squinted at her phone. Ten to seven.

‘Morning, my love.’ Simon stirred and reached under the duvet to put his hand around her waist. ‘How did you sleep?’
She closed her eyes. ‘Hm.’
‘Is that a hm of yes or a hm of no?’
‘Hm.’
‘Did Jenna wake up?’
Her look said it all.
‘Oh dear. Why won’t you wake me? I’m more than happy to see to her.’
‘Then why don’t you?’
‘I don’t hear her.’
‘There doesn’t seem any point in us both being awake then.’
Simon thought better than to reply. Penny had not been herself recently, quick to criticize, withdrawn and moody. He’d felt the sharp side of her tongue too often of late. He decided to make some coffee and bring it up to her but the act of shifting the duvet, even slightly, caused her grievance. ‘Why do you always pull the bedding off me?’ She pulled the duvet tight around her chin. ‘It is winter, you know.’
‘I didn’t mean to. Coffee?’
Penny knew she’d been unkind and rolled over to face him as he sat on the edge of the bed, back towards her, slipping on his T-shirt from the day before. She reached out and stroked the side of his hip. ‘I’m sorry. Just a bit tired. I’d love some coffee, thank you.’ He stood up and she let her arm fall back onto the sheets.
She said, ‘I do love you, you know.’
He ran his hands over his bald head and picked his glasses up from the bedside table. ‘I know. I love you too.’ He smiled at her and, putting a knee onto the mattress, leant over to kiss her. She put her hands on either side of his face and returned the gentle kiss. ‘Coffee, tea or me?’ she smiled. From across the landing came the grizzly morning cry of their daughter, ‘Mumma? Dadda?’
‘Shit!’ groaned Penny.
Simon eased himself back off the bed. ‘I’ll get her. Stay there and I’ll bring you your coffee.’
Penny had her coffee in the luxurious silence of her peaceful bed. Winter in Cornwall held a quiet all of its own. No tractors would be out until the sun came up. No bird would be stirring in its nest and no parishioners would be beating their way up the vicarage path to give Simon another burden of responsibility. Finishing her
coffee she stretched and wriggled back down into the warmth of her covers. She’d wait five minutes, just three hundred tiny seconds, she said to herself, and then she’d feel strong enough to get up and face the day.
Unable to put off the inevitable any longer, Penny tore herself out of bed and stared into the bathroom mirror. First she examined the two spots on her chin and then the circles under her eyes. She stood sideways and lifted her nightie to see her pale and wobbly tummy. She’d seen fewer pleats in the curtains of the local cinema. Whose stomach was this? She wanted her own returned. The firm and rounded one that she’d taken for granted for all those pre-baby years. Dropping her nightie and shrug­ging on her dressing gown, which still smelt of Marmite even after a wash and half a day hanging on the line in the sun, she slopped down to the kitchen.
Jenna was in her high chair and Simon was attempting to spoon porridge into her. ‘That’s good, isn’t it?’ he said encouragingly.
Jenna opened her mouth and grinned. Pushing her tongue out, she allowed the cereal to ooze down her chin. Simon spooned it back in.
It came out again, and before Simon could catch it Jenna had put her hands into it and rubbed it into her face and hair.
‘Would you like a banana, then?’ he asked, reaching for a baby wipe.
Jenna shook her head. She had just turned one. ‘Mumma.’
‘Mummy’s a bit tired,’ said Simon.
Penny sat at the table. ‘Too right Mummy’s tired.’
‘Get this down you.’ Simon passed her a fresh cup of
coffee. ‘A caffeine hit should make everything look better. By the way, I’ve emptied the dishwasher for you.’
Penny gave him a cold stare, suddenly irritated again. ‘You’ve emptied the dishwasher for me? Why for me? Because it’s my job, is it? The woman’s job is to empty the dishwasher? Is that it?’
‘Oh Penny, you know what I meant. It’s a figure of speech. Like when you tell me you’ve done my ironing for me.’
‘Well, that is for you. It’s yours. Do you ever do the ironing for me?’
Simon took his glasses off and began polishing them. ‘You know what I mean.’
Penny picked up Jenna’s breakfast bowl. ‘Come on then, monster, have your porridge.’
Jenna obligingly opened her mouth and tucked in.
Simon, returning his glasses to his face, tried a cheerful smile. ‘Good girl, Jenna, you wouldn’t do that for Daddy, would you?’
‘Why do you refer to yourself in the third person?’ asked Penny. ‘Don’t say Daddy, say me.’
‘It’s just a fig—’
‘A figure of speech.’ Penny popped the last spoonful into Jenna’s mouth. ‘Everything is a figure of speech to you, isn’t it? Pass me the wet wipes.’
She expertly mopped Jenna’s face and hands, hoping that Simon felt inadequate watching just how deftly she did it, then lifted her from the high chair and handed her to her father.
‘I’m just going for a shower,’ she said.
He looked anxious. ‘How long will you be?’
‘As long as it takes.’
He looked at the kitchen clock.
‘Well, I can give you ten minutes then I have to go.’
‘You can give me ten minutes? How very generous.’ Penny went to leave the kitchen.
‘Sarcasm does not become you,’ Simon blurted.
‘That wasn’t sarcasm,’ she threw over her shoulder. ‘Sarcasm takes energy and wit and I am too tired for either.’
Walking up the stairs was an effort. Her body was not responding to the caffeine. Everything was an effort nowadays. She looked forward to nothing, she laughed at nothing, her brain felt nothing. Nothing but an empti­ness that – and may God forgive her – even Jenna’s dear face couldn’t always fill.
She turned on the shower, stripped off her night­clothes, stood under the hot water and cried.

***

I don't know if you remember, but when I read Fern's novel A Good Catch, I was completely besotted by it. I adored her characters as well as the things they came to endure. Fern  created her coastal town setting superbly and I truly was whisked away by all of the descriptions the author provided. Plus, the story itself was one-of-a-kind and that's partly the reason as to why I'm so excited about reading The Postcard. I can't wait to see what Fern Britton has got in store for her readers this time. I've a feeling it's going to be wonderful!

Available on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US
Arrives June 2nd 2016 (eBook) March 23rd 2017 (paperback)

Blurb -
Secrets. Sisters. The summer that changed everything . . .
Life in the Cornish village of Pendruggan isn’t always picture perfect. Penny Leighton has never told anyone why she’s estranged from her mother and sister. For years she’s kept her family secrets locked away in her heart, but they’ve been quietly eating away at her. When an unwelcome visitor blows in, Penny is brought face to face with the past. And a postcard, tucked away in a long-hidden case, holds the truth that could change everything.
Young Ella has come back to the place where she spent a happy childhood with her grandmother. Now she’s here to search for everything missing in her life. Taken under Penny’s broken wing for the summer, the safe haven of Pendruggan feels like the place for a fresh start. Soon, however, Ella starts to wonder if perhaps her real legacy doesn’t lie in the past at all.

About the Author
Fern is deeply committed to a number of charities, in particular those working with and for women, children and childbirth. She has completed several gruelling bike rides across Egypt, India, Cuba, Jordan and Sri Lanka, raising money for the Genesis Research Trust to find cures for devastating conditions that affect mother and baby. #Challenge57, last year, saw Fern cycle from John O’Groats to Land’s End for the charity. This year she will hit the road on a 360 mile adventure in the Highlands and Inner Hebrides. 58 this year, she is fitter and healthier than she has ever been, and says that her life has been enriched by both the physical challenge, the camaraderie with her fellow cyclists and the fact that they are helping the next generation of women across the globe to build the happy, healthy families they deserve. www.fernbrittonchallenge58.com Fern has recently taken part in a series of new short films produced by Sport Relief, to shine a light on maternal mental illness in the UK and help to reduce stigma around the issue. 

Fern lives with her husband Phil Vickery, the well-respected chef, and her four children in Buckinghamshire and Cornwall.

You can find Fern Britton on Facebook | Twitter | fern-britton.com

Be sure to keep up with the rest of the blog tour!
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