They say love feels like going home . . .
but what if your home is no longer there?
Leaving her tiny flat in London -- and a whole host of headaches behind -- Lizzy Walter is making the familiar journey back home to spend Christmas with her chaotic but big-hear ted family. In an ever-changing world, her parents' country home, Keeper House, is the one constant. But behind the mistletoe and mince pies, family secrets and rivalries lurk. And when David, the Love of Her Life -- or so she thought -- makes an unexpected reappearance, this one ranks as a Christmas she would definitely rather forget.
As winter slowly turns to spring, all the things that Lizzy has taken for granted begin to shift. Keeper House is in jeopardy and might have to be sold for reasons Lizzy doesn't understand. Her family seems fractured like never before. And, with a new man in her life, she may finally have to kiss her dream of a reunion with David good-bye. By the time the Walters gather at Keeper House for a summer wedding, the stakes have never been higher -- for Lizzy, for her family, and for love.
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October 09, 2006
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Excerpt from Going Home by Harriet Evans
The bus ground its way slowly up the Edgware Road as I sat, like a mad old bag lady, gripping my last-minute Christmas shopping between my legs and on my lap, casting angry glances at those who tried to sit anywhere near me. It was Christmas Eve and I'd only just got round to buying my presents. With the depressing predictability of riots on May Day, rain at Wimbledon, and stories in August about hamsters who can play the kazoo, I promise myself every year that I will have bought and wrapped all my presents by December 15, and every year I end up in Boots, the chemist's, with an hour to go, buying my father a small, slanting glass toothpick-holder, my mother a furry hot-water-bottle cover endorsed by the Tweenies, and my sister Jess a gilt-edged notelet set that says "Happy Christmas!"
I jumped off at the lights, closed my eyes, and ran across the road, praying that this would not be how I met my death. I had half an hour before Tom, my cousin, and Jess arrived to pick me up. We were going home, home home, in one of thousands of cars setting forth from London after their occupants had put in a half-day at work, bags hastily packed, driving into the twilight. It was only 3 p.m., but dusk already seemed to be descending over the city.
My flat is just off the Edgware Road, behind an odd assortment of dilapidated shops that are a constant source of delight to me. There are the usual cut-price off-license liquor places ("Bacardi Breezers at 75p!") and poky newsagents, neither of which ever stock Twiglets but promise they'll have some next time I come in. There's also an undertaker, a computer shop selling ancient Amstrads, a joke shop called Cheap Laffs -- handy when you're in urgent need of a pair of fake comedy breasts -- and Arthur's Bargains, which, incongruously, sells pianos and keyboards. I would not personally spend my hard-earned cash on a musical instrument from a place called Arthur's Bargains, but chacun son go t, as the French say. Off a tiny alley, so nondescript I have frequently noticed people not noticing it, away from the roar of the cars and lorries that thunder up and down the Edgware Road day and night, is a small cobbled street with tall, spindly houses, one of which is mine. Well, one of the shoebox flats on the top floor is mine.
The noise of traffic faded as I turned into my street. I could even hear the faint rumble of a Tube beneath me, full of passengers escaping from work to enjoy the usual bout of indigestion, seasonal belligerence, and disappointing new episodes of Only Fools and Horses. The flowers I'd bought for Mum, fiery red and orange ranunculus, crackled in their brown-paper wrapping as I grappled with the temperamental locks on the front door. I hauled myself up the stairs, struggled with my own front door, nudged it open with my bottom, and lowered my bags onto the floor.
I headed into my tiny bedroom, which I love despite its size, sloping roof, and lack of light. The view isn't uniformly picturesque, unless you call Wormwood Scrubs picturesque. But it's my flat, my view, so while other people look out of the window and say, "Oh, my God -- is that a dead body in your street " I say, "You can see Little Venice from here, if you stand on that chair and use a periscope."
The packing I'd been so smug about at one o'clock this morning was not at the advanced stage I'd imagined when I rushed out of the door, hungover and disheveled, a handful of hours later. I'd packed all my socks but no shoes, seven pairs of trousers and no jumpers, and had obviously been in a nostalgic mood because Lizzy the drunk had seen fit to pack three teddies (bears, not lingerie), a collection of Just William stories, and just one pair of knickers.