"Isla is the best, the funniest, the cleverest, the most enjoyable writer in Scotland today. . .. you would enrich your life beyond all measure by discovering Isla Dewar." Robin Pilcher, New York Times bestselling author
In this funny and charming novel, Megs is a woman whose ordinary life is about to become absolutely extraordinary. . . .
When Megs became a house cleaner to make ends meet as a single mother of three, she didn't realize that people would be so blinded by the cleansers and mops, they would fail to see her as an actual human being. As "the housekeeper" she's become invisible to them all. Little do these upper-crust clients realize that her life is just as full as theirs, although perhaps a bit less high end.
Megs sings the sultry blues at a club each weekend, begins a secret affair, and drinks her troubles away with her saucy best friend, Lorraine all while trying to keep her children happy and her head above water. But with help from an eccentric professor whose house she cleans, her life is about to get a shot in the arm. Megs begins to speak her mind, stand up for herself, and live her life in color.
Poignant and incredibly witty, Giving Up On Ordinary is a heartwarming story with laughter and surprises on every page. Following in the incredible footsteps of Maeve Binchy and Joanna Trollope, Isla Dewar has established herself as one of the greatest voices in women's fiction today.
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St. Martin's Griffin
October 01, 2009
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Excerpt from Giving Up On Ordinary by Isla Dewar
GIVING UP ON ORDINARY
'I belong on a train,' said Megs. Dreaming of movement, she shut her eyes, sank deep into her bath. It was the best bit of her day. Her life had become so routine that week to week, day to day - minute to minute almost - she knew what she'd be doing. There was, these days, a strict timetable to her existence: get up, get children up, feed children, feed dog, clatter, bang, wipe, sigh, go to work, come home from work, feed children, feed dog, clatter, bang, wipe, sigh, slump, go back to bed. Sleep. If you can.
It was a fight against grubbiness and clutter. She hated it. Still, at least she knew when the good bits in her day were coming round. She savoured and looked forward to them. Leaning back in the bath was one. After this, there was that moment when she spread herself, unfolded herself into bed, alone in the soothing dark, waiting for sleep. That was the best bit. She was the sort of person who saved the best till last It was a lifetime's habit.
Sleep to her was a perfect thing. But then, she wasn't very good at it. She cherished that moment of waking, realising she'd been dead to the world, tranquillised by tiredness, for a few hours. The only thing she regretted about sleeping was that she was not awake to enjoy it. She longed to relish it, like she relished anything she did not get enough of. She got through night after night in a series of two- or three-hour bouts. This made her regard with envy and wonder those people who managed a sweet eight to ten hours every time they hit the sack. Her children, for example, especially little Lizzy, who was four. Nights, Megs would stand looking at her daughter - head on pillow, eyes shut, lips pursed - breathing sweetly. Megs loved to watch her lying there, making sleep seem simple.
'Definitely a train. I do not belong in this dusty box I live in, surrounded by bits of paper - bills, half-read newspapers, wrappings, supermarket receipts - paraphernalia of a life I did not plan. Oh, bugger ...' Cursing, she stiffly heaved on to one buttock and removed from underneath her bruised, raised cheek the cruelly sharp little white Corvette she'd just sat on. 'Bloody kids.' She idly sent it wheeling away from her, heading for the taps.
Lorraine, on the floor across from her, chin on knees, back against the wall, said nothing. She was used to her friend's flyaway declarations. Megs had always been this way. Megs's mother, Vivienne, worried about her. But her Aunty Betty said, 'Let her be. A bit of dreaming never did nobody no harm.' 'A bit, maybe.' Vivienne shook her head. 'But she goes too far. Everything she does, she goes too far.'
The room was thickly steamed, damp towels hung limp from the rail. There was a pile of magazines by the lavatory, an awesome row of fruit and herb shampoos; moisturisers and deodorants - avocado and glycerine, coconut and jojoba, papaya conditioner, camomile and marigold hair strengthener - on the shelf by the mirror. At the end of the bath was a multicoloured heap of sodden toys - a dumper truck, a beloved, balding one-eyed doll, a pull-along sheep. Shameless, the dog, was lying on the floor, head between his paws. He gave a single indolent flap of his tail whenever Megs spoke. She was his love.
Down the hall in the living room Megs's son, Jack, was sitting, legs draped over the arm of the chair, watching Ren and Stimpy. He drank Nescaf? from a chipped A-Team mug that had been his and his alone since he was four, and that had survived Megs's umpteen attempts to see it off. It bounced on the kitchen floor whenever she accidentally dropped it Till at last she gave up accidentally dropping it. 'This damn thing will survive the holocaust. I'll emerge after the blast toothless, balding and in rags, and what'll I see? This hideous thing spotless and untouched on top of a pile of rubble.'