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After The Rain by Susan E Jones. Extract

Check out this absolutely gorgeous looking and sounding book!!! I'm gutted I couldn't squeeze a review in but read on for an extract!

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Book Description

It is the late summer of 1910 and Bessie Hardwicke, thirty-nine years old and single, has just started work as a lady’s companion to widowed Fanny Grist in London.

The change is momentous for Bessie and she constantly questions whether the move was a big mistake.

Life in London is so different from what she’s been used to and she desperately misses her dear nephew Walter, whom she looks upon as a son.

There is no denying that she is badly in need of a change. Even after twenty years, she is still grieving the loss of her fiancé Arthur and beloved sister Ethel.

But she is not alone in her grief.

Those she comes into contact with in London are no less afflicted by the loss of loved ones than she is. And through her compassion and selflessness, Bessie bestows on others the priceless gift of irrepressible hope.


I was so sad to leave Farringdale House, even though it was no longer as grand as it had been in Mother’s time. There was a rumour that once the eldest daughter, Lady Sophia Radcliffe, left for the continent – she was to marry an Italian nobleman of substantial means – some servants would have to be dismissed. I didn’t think that would include me as I’d worked there for so long and was well thought of, but I decided to follow Patty’s advice mainly because I was in desperate need of some kind of change in my life. But I’ll always be indebted to the Radcliffes for their kindnesses and their interest in me. I’d been a favourite of Lady Marguerite Radcliffe ever since I rescued her youngest son Alexander when he fell into the river. Oh, I wasn’t such a heroine – he would never have drowned. But he was stuck in some reeds and I managed to pull him out, along with his brother Cecil’s brand new bicycle. If it had been left to Cecil, the bicycle would have been rescued before little Alexander! It was Lady Radcliffe who taught me social etiquette and how to speak correctly – competences I then passed on to my nephew Walter – and she was more than happy to give me a glowing recommendation when I told her of my application. She said she envied me and that if she were ten years younger, she’d move to London herself. I think she was trying to cheer me up; I hated having to say goodbye to those familiar faces I’d grown to love.

There I go again, talking about the past! It’s just that I can’t stop thinking about everyone I’ve left behind, especially the Radcliffes and my dear nephew Walter. Let me try again to speak about present and not dwell so much on the past.

The first week I was here, Mrs Grist took me on a tour of the city. We sat on the top deck of a red motorbus. It was quite an experience for me as I’d never been on a motorbus before. But I found being up so high quite frightening, especially when the driver turned corners, much too quickly in my opinion. I was terrified the bus would topple over! Mrs Grist pointed out some historic sights such as Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and so on. These were places I’d heard mention of , but never thought I’d see with my own eyes . It was thoughtful of my new employer to show me London in this way, but I was so overwhelmed by the size of the city and its traffic – horse-drawn carts and carriages, motorcabs and buses, bicycles, not to mention the hundreds of pedestrians all moving with a sense of purpose that you just don’t see in the village – that I don’t think I showed my appreciation in a way that pleased her. To be honest, it was the little things that stuck in my mind, like the girl selling flowers in Trafalgar Square – such an explosion of colour in the baskets that surrounded her! – and the fact that, in residential streets, one could see right into rooms on the first floor of folk’s houses. How are the occupants able to bear so many probing eyes?

Mrs Grist hasn’t taken me out since then, but I’ve done a lot of walking on my days off and managed to get a feel for the borough of Wandsworth where we live. The Church of Holy Trinity is not far away and I usually attend the morning service on a Sunday. When I asked Mrs Grist which church she attended, she said she didn’t feel the need to worship in public; she had her own ways of communicating with her maker. I must have looked surprised because she then told me, in quite a sharp tone, to fetch her Bible from the bookshelf and to make sure I replaced any books that I borrowed in alphabetical order. She said she’d been shocked to find a Collins next to a Thoreau. I didn’t tell her that I haven’t as yet borrowed any books at all, or that those I’d removed on her instructions were still in a pile on the table next to her easy chair.

Author Bio

I grew up in Stroud in Gloucestershire but was always keen to travel and embrace new experiences. For many years I lived and worked abroad – in Brussels, Rome, Abidjan and Washington DC – working mostly with international organisations in various roles ranging from editing to budget preparation.

When I finally decided it was time for me to return to the UK, I chose Penzance in Cornwall as my home and was able to devote most of my free time to writing. This had long been my ambition. Long daily walks along the South West Coastal Path give me both a sense of wellbeing and an opportunity to think about ideas for my next novel.

I self-published three novels between 2016 and 2020. These were, however, basically fictionalised autobiographies and would not have attracted an audience beyond family and close friends. After the Rain is the first purely fictional novel I have written. It was inspired by the contents of my great-great aunt’s postcard album, which somehow ended up my possession. Many of the postcards are from her nephew and they captured my imagination, giving me a glimpse into life in the early 1900s.

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