I was in the mood for something different and this fit the bill perfectly. A serialised novel, it tells the story of Hattie who is happily married to Gary. They have a teenage son Johnny who sometimes tries Hattie’s patience, as teenagers tend to do. Cat, Hattie’s best friend since primary school, has thankfully ditched her controlling husband and is much happier. Her brother Jack is in a strong relationship with his partner, Ben. Hattie’s mother Rachel is an elegant lady with a few gentlemen friends who is about to face a frightening battle.
All the novellas are now published so I was really pleased to be able to read them consecutively.
Returning from a night out, Gary volunteers to clean the kitchen after Johnny’s efforts at cooking himself a meal and takes the trash out to the bin. Hattie is upstairs when she hears a bang and, rushing to the window, sees a car screeching away. Hattie’s life changed forever that night. Nearly twenty-one years of marriage brought to an end by a hit and run driver. Hattie is devastated but almost before she’s had time to process the changes in her life she has a huge shock when Gary materialises in front of her.
Standing before her, grinning from ear to ear, was Gary. A whisky tumbler in one hand and her glass of God knows what in the other. He looked exactly the same as the night he died, down to his drainpipe jeans and Bowie T-shirt he’d had since his twenties and refused to bin despite it having more holes than O J Simpson’s defence plea.
Other storylines are woven in with Hattie and Gary’s—Cat’s ex has turned up like the bad penny he is, just when Cat needs it least with a new relationship just beginning. Johnny is being a typical adolescent male and Hattie’s mum Rachel has her own problem to deal with.
The story continues with Gary not knowing why he’s still earthbound and his spirit guide Clarence isn’t telling. All he’ll say is that Gary has a mission to complete before he can move on. Perhaps it has something to do with young Marty, a boy Gary has befriended in the afterlife. Hattie, trying to get on with life, is getting used to Gary dropping in and out even if his timing is sometimes not the best. She’s relieved and dumbfounded in equal measure when she gets a visit from Cat telling her about Gary’s appearance and Stewart’s return.
‘I can’t imagine what was the bigger shock; Gary appearing or Stewart turning up like that. He’s really got some nerve, after the way he treated you, Cat. I hope you slam the door in his self-satisfied mug if he dares to show up again.’
Hattie’s very happy that Johnny is growing up and getting his life together, but her mother has had some devastating news.
Gary has asked Hattie to pass on a very sensitive message, something she’s not looking forward to at all. It was bad enough trying to convince Cat about Gary, now she needs to convince people she doesn’t even know. On top of that, Cat seems to be falling for Stewart’s manipulations again, even after all her efforts to reassert herself and rebuild her life. And as if Hattie hasn’t enough to worry about, Gary’s visits are getting less frequent and he’s unable to materialise for long.
‘Babe. I’m here.’ His voice was weak, diminished, as feeble as a whisper carried away on a breeze. Hattie looked up and gasped. Gary was hardly visible, a shadow of his former ghostly self. Not even a shadow, just a vague imprint.