Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Towers of Silence by Cath Staincliffe (Robinson 2003)



“I just feel so angry,” she said. “I want to get all his things and tear them up and throw them in the street and smash the car up and humiliate him ... but the children ... I can’t do those things because I care so much about ...” she broke down. “That’s the difference, isn’t it?” she said eventually. “That’s how he can do this and live with himself, because he doesn’t really care?”

I didn’t answer. I didn’t know.

“I feel such a fool,” she said. “It all makes sense now. Times when he had special sales exhibitions on, nights when the traffic was bad. Things he missed, Penny in the concert at the Royal Northern College, “her eyes shone with a harsh conviction, “and the time Rachel was knocked down. I was in MRI with her and he was working, or so he said. He’d probably got his feet up ... I blamed the job. I never once thought ... not even an affair.”

She thought for a moment. “We’ve been struggling; the bills, I can’t keep Adam in shoes and trousers, everything has to be the cheapest, discounts, second hand. We haven’t had a holiday in years. No bloody wonder is it? He’d be paying out for two families ...” She choked on the thought.

“How can you be so wrong about someone? When I met Ken he’d just been promoted. I thought he was Mr Wonderful. He had a great sense of humour ...”

She talked on recalling their courtship and marriage, the ups and downs, what had attracted her to him, how he was with the children when they were babies. The sort of reminiscence people do when someone has died, trying to capture a sense of the person as they were. Or in this case as they were before they were unmasked. Her account was coloured by a bitter irony that bled into everything. As she talked, the past was being rewritten in the light of his betrayal. Memories tainted; the picture skewing like water bleaching old photographs. Every so often she’d interrupt herself, taken aback anew by the magnitude of his wrongdoing and its implications. “What do I tell the children?” she’d say, and “all those lies,” but most of all, “how could he?” and “the bastard.”

“You need some legal advice,” I told her. “Do you know anyone?”

She shook her head.

“I’ll give you a number. It’s likely he’ll be prosecuted. Bigamy is a criminal offence. Sentences vary but he could go to prison.”

“Good,” she said bitterly. “I hope he rots there. How could he? I just can’t understand it. I can’t. It doesn’t make any sense.”

4 comments:

Mikeovswinton said...

Doing the Cath Staincliffe/Sal Kilkenny thing are we? And why not. Great writer /great series/great city.
(And being in the states you won't twig the Miranda Hart ref above.)

Darren said...

It's always nice to lock into series of books, and I've obviously been enjoying the Kilkenny books because I've been reading them in quick succession. (Part of what I like about the books and the character is the family dynamic that runs through all the books. Makes a nice change from the detective as loner/estranged from his or her family type.)

Sadly, I don't have the next Kilkenny books immediately to hand so I'll have to toddle over to bookfinder.com to find the rest.

In the meantime, I've shifted my book-reading focus to that other great city in the North West. ;-)

And, no, sadly I don't get the Miranda Hart reference. I'm not sure I get Miranda Hart.

Darren said...

I just realised that the only one I have missed from the Kilkenny series is 'Missing'. I think I may have to read books 4 and 8 in the series again.

Mikeovswinton said...

I did that with the George Gently books after seeing the TV series. It is quite weird ; they are so unlike the TV series it makes you wonder what they did apart from keeping the name. The books are set in Norfolk. Gently is a copper from the Met delegated out to "Northshire". They are very Olde School - one is even a Country House Mystery. The weirdest is the one about shenanigans caused by a sort of International Trotskyist Party and its efforts to subvert using its underground army. The target for all this? Great Yarmouth ("Starmouth") of course. I was bought a series of 10 from the Book People and worked my way through them. Actually it made Great Yarmouth sound so interesting I nearly went on holiday there last year. Well, I thought about it for 10 minutes.