Welcome to the final day of the blog blitz for A Posy of Promises by Sharon Dempsey! I have an extract to share with you all today. My thanks to Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for the invitation to join!
Author : Sharon Dempsey
Title : A Posy of Promises
Pages : 196
Publisher : Bloodhound Books
Publication date : June 13, 2018
Ava Connors is comfortable with her life just as it is, still living in the tiny terrace house where she was brought up by her grandmother, Maggie, seeing her long-term boyfriend, Finlay, and working in a florists.
But Maggie’s health is declining and Finlay is fed up waiting for Ava to make a commitment.
Ava has never really known her mother, Scarlett, and when she inherits an old and dilapidated house it ignites an interest in the mother who had abandoned her as a child.
Why did Scarlett leave her to be brought up by her grandmother?
Soon Ava begins to ask this question and in turn sets off a series of events that will change her life forever.
Dating back to 1898, this handsome and individually designed house retains much of the original character, including decorative plasterwork to the ceilings, ornate mahogany staircase and sliding sash windows, and is set amidst mature gardens extending to circa half an acre.
The accommodation is of generous proportions and covers three floors, making it an excellent home for a growing family. On entrance, the wide hallway boasts the original wood block flooring, oak wood panelling, a cloakroom with high wall-mounted flush WC, pedestal wash hand basin, tiled floor, part-tiled walls and a built-in cupboard with ample space for storage.
The main drawing room offers an original marble fireplace with tiled hearth, inset and surround, picture rail, cornicing, and solid block wood floor. This room leads to a small bookcase-lined study with French patio doors to the side courtyard style garden.
The sitting room provides a view over the extensive rear gardens, with a window seating area, ceiling cornicing, fireplace with marble hearth, wood block flooring and door through to dining room.
Bedroom accommodation set out over two floors.
Master bedroom suite with period fireplace, separate dressing room and large en suite bathroom. Guest bedroom suite with separate sitting area and en suite shower room.
Two additional bedrooms on first floor and two further bedrooms are found on the second floor.
Outside there are exceptional gardens as well as a garage and ample parking. The property provides spacious family accommodation which retains many original characteristics and features, and is perfectly complemented by the generous and private site with delightful level gardens to the rear along with a sheltered patio area with southerly aspect.
Mount Pleasant Square is a mature leafy park off the popular Stranmillis Road and is recognised as one of the area’s most sought after residential locations. It is situated in a conservation area, and undoubtedly Belfast’s most desirable residential address. While this property enjoys considerable privacy and seclusion, the location could not be more convenient for access to Belfast City Centre, the vibrant Lisburn Road, main arterial routes, leading schools and academic institutions, parks and golf clubs.
Please note extensive modernisation required.
Ninety-seven Mount Pleasant Square. The address created a certain sense of contentment, as if to live there was to have reached a plateau of happiness and well-being.
Until that morning, when Ava received the estate agent particulars, she had it all sorted out in her head. She would sell up, pocket a mighty fortune and start her own business, or even go travelling, though she doubted she would go too far when she had her gran to consider. Realistically, Ava couldn’t go backpacking around the south of Ireland let alone New Zealand, knowing her gran was languishing in the Sisters of Mercy nursing home.
The point was, that for the first time in her life, Ava had possibilities, choices which only a significant sum of money could provide. She felt like a Jane Austen heroine, thinking of how money could turn one’s life around, except she didn’t have to hunt down a man of good standing to secure her financial future. Financial security had sought her out, and might as well have fallen straight out of the sky onto her lap for all she knew of how it had come about.
The paperwork had stated that she was now the sole beneficiary of the estate which comprised of number ninety-seven. She had no way of establishing the reason why she had been left the house. She certainly didn’t know of any rich relatives who would have left it to her and knew no reason why it should have remained a secret. It was unlikely her gran had known about the house, for surely, she would have told her that she had this inheritance to look forward to. Why had whoever owned the house chosen to neglect it and allow it to fall into such a poor sorry state? It was all a bit of a curiosity.
When she had received the initial letter requesting that she meet with Ms Boston of Hawkings Solicitors, Ava had assumed it was to do with her gran’s affairs and her move to the nursing home. She had even prepared for the meeting by digging out the deeds of her gran’s house along with social security numbers, her pension book and other such details.
The solicitor, a blonde elegant woman named Amanda, had expressed her delight at having tracked Ava down so easily. She had few details to go on, she explained. If Ava had moved, then the solicitor would have been stuck like a duck in a mudflat. She had extended her manicured hand to congratulate Ava on her good fortune, a diamond engagement ring winking in the sunlight as it cast prisms of light around the airless Ormeau Road office.
Ava sat there on the wine-coloured leather chair, dumbfounded, clutching the irrelevant paperwork, trying to process the information. A house? Left to her? Her initial reaction had been to assume that she had inherited the house from her mother. But firstly, as far as Ava knew, she hadn’t died, and secondly, she hadn’t visited Northern Ireland for many years, let alone owned a house here.
‘Yeah, I can see it’s a shock, but aren’t you the lucky one?’ Amanda had said, obviously happy to pocket the fee for tracking Ava down and finalising the details. It was clear to Ava that it wasn’t every day that Amanda got to play the fairy godmother role. She was probably more used to dealing with Disability Living Allowance fraud cases and chasing up legal aid paperwork on behalf of good-for-nothing joyriders and recreational summer time rioters, hell-bent on throwing petrol bombs at the emergency services, fire brigade and ambulances included.
‘This blue cardboard file has sat gathering dust for years. It must have been instructed well before my time,’ Amanda said. ‘Mr Hawking senior would have dealt with the original client way back in the seventies or eighties when the practice was in its heyday. We have a few leftover documents and cases to be tallied up from the days when Samuel Hawking ran the practice and this bequest file was one of them.’
Ava sat there, not really taking it all in, thinking that at some stage the solicitor would realise she had been mistaken and that she had the wrong Ava Connors. Ava could feel her skin prickle with the beginning of a heat rash – she always got over heated and itchy when she was nervous.
‘But why now? And who left it to me?’
‘All I can tell you is that the benefactor has requested that the house be signed over without disclosure of identity. Believe it or not, it isn’t all that uncommon. Sometimes people don’t wish for the whole world to know their business. You just got lucky.’
I don’t know about you but I’d be totally okay with a house falling into my lap like that!
Will Ava ever find out who the mysterious benefactor is? Want to read more? Then you’re in luck as A Posy of Promises is available to buy!
A Posy of Promises is Sharon Dempsey’s first contemporary women’s fiction novel.
Sharon is a Belfast based writer of fiction and non-fiction books, with four health books published. He crime debut Little Bird was released July 2017 with Bloodhound Books.
She facilitates therapeutic creative writing classes for people affected by cancer and other health challenges, and runs a creative writing group for young people, called Young Scribblers, at the Crescent Arts Centre. She is a creative writing tutor at Queen’s University and Stranmillis College. Sharon studied Politics and English at Queen’s University, and undertook a newspaper journalism post grad at City University, London. She has written for a variety of publications and newspapers, including the Irish Times.
Sharon is working on the follow up to Little Bird and a collection of dark short stories.
A Posy of Promises is the first in a trilogy.