Isla Dewar Giving Up On Ordinary

ISBN 13: 9780312561611

Giving Up On Ordinary

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9780312561611: Giving Up On Ordinary

"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.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Isla Dewar was born in Edinburgh. Her novels have been warmly acclaimed in the United Kingdom. She lives in Scotland with her husband, a cartoonist; they have two sons.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

GIVING UP ON ORDINARY
Chapter One '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 Nescafé 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.' Every time a shriek of laughter howled out of the bathroom Jack raised his eyes in horror. He was seventeen. Parents were embarrassing. Megs and Lorraine were drinking white wine from a box. They were discussing their day and complaining about life. Recently itseemed whenever they got together - and they got together most days - the conversation, when it wasn't about men, children or sandwich fillings, turned to, wait a minute, how did this happen? And, how did I get here? And, this wasn't what I planned. 'Oh yes.' Megs warmed to her theme. 'I belong on a train rushing across distant continents.' Rushing, she said. Rushing. She liked that. She lifted her arms, dripping camomile-and-lavender-foamed water, and made a train-like movement. 'Rushing,' she said again. Lorraine tutted. 'You do not have one iota of sense in you.' 'Sense,' Megs scoffed. Throughout her growing years sense had been held up as a desirable goal. A virtue to be worked for and treasured. But now she was having doubts about it. 'Comes a time in your life when you have to abandon sense.' She turned on her side, causing a small, scented wave to sweep over the edge of the bath, soaking the floor, and indicated the room and the flat beyond with a dismissive flap of her hand. 'This is what sense gets you. A box that costs a fortune. A small cluster of undistinguished rooms that you fill with your consumer goods and your arguments. Sense got me an ex-husband and a small brood of children whose only accomplishments as far as I can see are growing and eating. Sense! Fuck sense.' With a deep, throaty sigh she leaned back in the water. 'I love baths. You can do some serious thinking in a bath.' She had spent the afternoon washing Mrs Terribly-Clean Pearson's kitchen floor, waxing her coffee table and matching pine bedside cabinets, wiping down her stair banisters, hoovering, cleaning her bath, squishing blue stuff down her loo, polishing the windows, changing the beds and ironing half a dozen identical white shirts for Mr Terribly-Clean Pearson to wear to work. After all that effort the place looked exactly as it had when she arrived three hours before. 'I really deserve this. A glass of something alcoholic and a hot tub.' 'Maybe you just belong in a bath,' Lorraine offered. She drank her wine. 'God, this is vile.' 'Well, go buy a bottle of something better, then.' 'You go.' 'I can't. I'm in the bath.' 'Well, I can't be bothered. I'll just have to put up with this. AnywayI don't feel so guilty about drinking this early in the day if I'm drinking something I don't really like.' 'Well, you've got to feel guilty about something. You're a woman, it's your job.' Megs knew about guilt. She was good at it. Every night in bed she'd do a rerun of her day - what she'd eaten, things she'd said, what she'd done, what she'd not done. Tomorrow she'd make up for her failings. Tomorrow, always tomorrow, she'd exercise, first thing - fifty squats and a hundred sit-ups every morning as advised in the 'Gorgeous Thighs in a Fortnight' article she'd read in one of Just-Keep-It-Above-the-Dysentery-Line McGhee's magazines. Tomorrow she'd allow herself absolutely no chocolate or biscuits or anything in any way likely to do unkind things to her hips. Tomorrow she'd clean the kitchen floor and remove the decaying thing, whatever it was, that was lurking damply at the bottom of the fridge. Tomorrow she'd keep her cool and she would not bawl at her kids. She wouldn't stay up late, sitting bleary-eyed on the sofa, drinking too much coffee, watching dreadful old films on television, keeping her feet warm the while by shoving them under the dog. Oh yes, tomorrow she'd get her life in order. 'Sod guilt,' she said before slipping down under the water. She rose, soaked and gasping. 'I'm back on my train.' 'Rushing?' Lorraine asked, reaching for the box. 'Rushing.' Megs smiled. 'Over strange terrains, watching new colours, listening to wonderful languages that I shall never learn, and feeling always, always slightly afraid.' Lorraine leaned through the steam to refill her glass. She was taller than Megs, thin-faced, dark-haired. 'Fear?' she said. 'You? You don't know the meaning ...' 'Being slightly afraid isn't fear. It's wonderful. A certain uncontrollable trembling in the tummy. It's dealing with mystery, strange destinations, the unknown. Fear isn't like that. It's a sweat that reaches into your palms. It's knowing your knees aren't going to hold. It's a vile curdling in your stomach and it's humiliating.' Megs looked at her, dark eyes, mascara oozing in the heat and damp. She smiled, a perfect row of gleaming ceramic caps. A present from Megs to Megs on her thirty-sixth birthday. Time, an absurd diet that she inflicted on herself while insisting her children eat healthy vegand pasta, and a bitter, tear-sodden fracas with her ex-husband had ruined her natural set. Lorraine and Megs had met thirty-four years ago on their first day at school. They'd been best friends by lunch time, sharing a desk and, at break time, a KitKat and a bag of roast chicken crisps. In those days that was all it took. Bonding only needed a shared smallness in a vast and scary world and a mutual passion for American cream soda and raspberry ripple ice cream. 'Do you like American cream soda?' Megs asked. Lorraine nodded enthusiastically. 'Yes, it's my favourite.' This was serious. 'Mine too,' Megs agreed. 'You can be my best friend.' She added, 'For ever and ever.' It seemed like a fine idea to Lorraine, who was looking for someone to be her partner in the line out to the playground. Years passed and shared experiences on the way to being grown-up - first boyfriends, first bras, first cigarettes, first sex, first love - deepened the relationship. Now, here they were, facing forty, still best mates, and not a drop of American cream soda had passed the lips of either for years and years and years. Friendship was so simple then. The older Megs got the harder she found it to make new friends. If only she could ask some stranger she thought had pal potential what was her favourite drink - vodka and Coke? gin and tonic? wine? What was her favourite ice cream - pralines and cream or Belgian chocolate? Favourite sandwich filling? Favourite television programme? Favourite sexual position? If you could ask someone you fancied for a chum these things and found some common ground then maybe you could make new friends easily As it was, though, meeting new people always involved small sorties into emotionally safe conversational ground: the weather, holidays, the infrequency of buses. No wonder folk were lonely. Lorraine thought Megs the bravest person she knew. All those years ago, first day in class, their teacher had said, 'Hello, boys and girls. I've still got to learn all your names. But I'm Miss Watson and when you talk to me, you put your hand in the air. You only speak when I tell you to. And you call me Miss.' She leaned back brightly folding her hands on her desk. That was clear and simple, was it not? Megs stuck her hand in the air. 'Why?' she said, eager to be told,little voice, shiny eyes. This was puzzling, putting your hand up, calling someone who plainly had a proper name Miss. Miss was stumped. 'Because you do,' she said. 'It's the rule.' Megs's hand shot up again. 'Why?' she asked. 'Because it is. We need rules, you know.' Up went the hand again. 'Why?' Again. 'Because we do. Without them there would be anarchy. Absolute anarchy.' She shook her head at the thought of it. 'Miss.' Megs raised her hand. 'What's an ... an ... that thing you said?' 'I'll tell you later, when you're old enough to understand.' 'I'm old enough now. I'm big. I'm at school.' 'You are disrupting class.' 'No I'm not.' 'You are. And do you know what happens to people who disrupt class? They get put in the corner.' So, within an hour of starting her education, Megs, the budding anarchist, was put in the corner. 'There is always one,' said Miss. Megs was the one. She was the one then. She was still the one. Her bravery went on and on, Lorraine thought. Christ, she hadn't the nerve to do half the things Megs did. The only braveish thing she'd ever done was to run away from her husband, Harry, with a poet she convinced herself was her one true love. The heated romance hadn't survived the poet's arrogant disregard for regular meals or the chill of his unheated squat. She took Megs's glass. 'Ready for a refill?' 'When am I not?' Megs said. Megs drank too much. She knew it, worried about it and warned herself regularly that she ought to stop. But she never did. She tempered it, controlled it, recognised that moment when she should place one firm hand over the top of her glass and with the other wave away refills. But she still could not deny that longing, when faced with a glass of something alcoholic, to drown herself in it. She was in constant pursuit of that moment when the spirit took hold and her feelings lifted. A sip and she felt better. Another, even better. Then she would feel it - for it was a real thing to her - that moment when she didn't care. When she smiled and laughed and thoughtperhaps she wasn't such a failure after all. That wonderful, alcohol-induced twinkling when she actually liked herself. 'You drink too much,' Vivienne, her mother, worried. 'Rubbish,' Megs countered. 'You should be ashamed of yourself. You sleep around and you drink all the time.' 'What a slut you must think I am. And you brought me up, too. Nothing out of ten there.' 'How dare you speak to me like that? I'm your mother.' 'I know, Mother,' Megs said. 'You certainly don't seem to think very much of me, do you? So who's failed - you or me?' Then before Vivienne could answer, Megs corrected her. 'Actually, you've got it wrong. I don't sleep around. Haven't ever, as a matter of fact. No, I drink around and sleep alone. It's the healthy option, don't you think?' 'No, I don't. I'm not so stupid as you think. I've seen a thing or two in my time. I'm sixty-three, you know.' Hardly a day passed when Vivienne did not, in a fiercely indignant tone, tell somebody her age. Sixty-three, how dare that happen to her? Sixty-three years, and she'd spent the last thirty-nine of them watching her daughter careen through a life that was not a planned, step-by-step journey to some sort of sane, safe destiny but was instead a set of furious impulses. Megs had left school at seventeen and turned down a good university place to sing with a rock'n'roll band. When that had fallen through, when the dreams of stardom and riches did not materialise, Megs married and started a family When the family needed money, Megs started work at a mail-order market garden. A job she loved and was good at. Then she'd succumbed to one of her outbursts. She'd been swept along by the undertow of rage that bubbled constantly just beneath the cheery façade she showed the world. The fury and frustration she felt at living a life she considered a failure came hollering out. Megs had lost that job, and now she cleaned. Vivienne shook her head when she thought about it. Her son, who'd worked so hard at school, had gone to university, then, as soon as he graduated, or so it seemed, had gone to live in Australia. He'd married and now had two golden-haired, bronzed childrenwhom she hadn't met and who called her their Scottish Granny Megson. Her beautiful daughter, who had bounced so gleefully in her morning cot, whose first tooth was wrapped in tissue in a tiny, dark-blue padded box in her dresser drawer, who'd fallen from a swing and broken her arm, who had worn a frilly pink frock covered with pale blue daisies to her first school party, who had won the local church talent contest singing 'People', 'Peepole, peepole who need peepole', when she was seven, who had brought home hand-made cards covered with hearts and stars every Mother's Day, who had handed over glowing school reports that said, 'Megs has a natural musical ability' and 'Megs's use of language is bo...

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Isla Dewar
Published by St Martin s Press, United States (2009)
ISBN 10: 031256161X ISBN 13: 9780312561611
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Book Description St Martin s Press, United States, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Original. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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 authorIn 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. Bookseller Inventory # FLT9780312561611

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Isla Dewar
Published by St Martin s Press, United States (2009)
ISBN 10: 031256161X ISBN 13: 9780312561611
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Book Description St Martin s Press, United States, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Original. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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 authorIn 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. Bookseller Inventory # FLT9780312561611

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