"With an excellent cast of characters and a gripping storyline this is another page-turning triumph for an accomplished storyteller" - Sunday Independent
"With her delightfully terrifying 2011 debut novel The Dead Summer, Helen Moorhouse established her credentials as a supernatural thriller writer of note. Her 2012 sequel The Dark Water copper-fastened them. And while her latest offering might lack the edge-of-seat spookiness of her earlier novels, its sheer emotional depth makes it an equally compelling piece of work.
Moving between 1989 and 2020, Sing Me to Sleep tells the story of three women whose lives are inextricably linked to one man. The book opens with Jenny Mycroft at her kitchen table in London in June 1998 watching her husband Ed and their three year old daughter Bee bond over Ed's usual Saturday morning routine of sorting through the week's post. An unremarkable family tableau – except that neither Ed nor Bee can see Jenny because she isn't really there; since her death in a car crash six months previously only her ghost remains in a kind of limbo, unable to leave her family home and the loved ones so devastated by her loss.
From here the narrative rewinds to Ed and Jenny's first meeting as students in 1989; fast-forwarding through their wedding, the birth of their unplanned but welcomed daughter Bee in September 1995, and the covert, ill-fated assignation that leads to Jenny's untimely demise.
Afterwards, seemingly doomed to an eternity of haunting her old home, Jenny finds herself a reluctant witness to the effect that her death has had on those she left behind. She sees her heartbroken husband struggle to cope with the demands of a growing child; observes her now almost permanently installed in-laws become ever more meddlesome and obnoxious; and watches, helpless and horrified as her delightful little daughter morphs into a surly, confrontational little madam. Matters aren't helped by the eventual arrival of Rowan, Ed's new love, whom a jealous and frustrated Jenny decides to blame for her now teenage daughter's increasingly delinquent behaviour. In a bid to get Bee back on track, Ed and Rowan bring her to live with them in Rowan's family home in Somerset. But despite their best efforts, Bee continues relentlessly on a downward spiral. When she finds herself pregnant and abandoned after a particularly ill-judged dalliance it seems the situation can't get any worse. Or can it ... ? With an excellent cast of characters and a gripping storyline this is another page-turning triumph for an accomplished storyteller. Helen Moorhouse, take a bow."
Some love is neverending. First love. A mother's love for her child. This,Jenny Mycroft learns when she finds herself unable to leave her husband, Ed and her daughter Bee, despite the fact she has died in a tragic car accident. Butno matter how strong, how enduring, her love, Jenny learns that life goes on and that for the living there is still time for new love, for fresh heartbreak. Through a series of snapshots spanning over 30 years, Sing Me To Sleep looks at the lives of three women - Jenny, Rowan and Bee - who love, and are loved, by one man, Ed. Through heartbreak, joy and hope to the eventual dramatic events that bring all three women together. Sing Me To Sleep is the story of how we are driven by love, even after death. A tale of what might have been, what should have been, and what was.
Here's a taster of the first chapter....
I'm sitting at my kitchen table. It's Saturday morning and it's raining outside, a steady downpour, noiseless except for dripping from the gutters above the kitchen door. It's a nice rain. A stay indoors rain. Even though it's June, the kitchen lights are on and it's cosy – there's a warm smell of coffee and toast and Ed's popped on the new Moby album that he brought home last night. It's soft but catchy. The washing machine is humming gently in the background – a gentle swish swish sound. Adds to the atmosphere. Makes all this a moment.
I'm watching Ed do his usual Saturday morning routine – to stand at the countertop and go through the week's post in detail. He's always done it. Stood there with his diary by his side filling in any appointments that have arrived, filing the bank statements, binning the junk mail. Sitting beside him on the work surface, helping, is our daughter, Bee. She'll be three in a couple of months. A fireball of energy at home, all brown curls and green eyes and porcelain skin. Outside the front door of 17, Pilton Gardens it's a different story. She's a serene little thing, silent and angelic like a Botticelli cherub. She's ripping up the envelopes for Ed as he empties them of their contents and flattens them into piles; bills, statements, correspondence, notifications.
I smile as he wrestles a particularly formal looking A4 envelope from her hand. “Bee!”, he exclaims. “Give that back to Daddy, I haven't read it yet”. Bee giggles and tries to tug it from his hand. “But I'm helping Daddy!”, she counters. “I'm the ripper – you said! I'm Bee the Ripper!”. Ed responds by tickling her under her arm with one hand, holding her safe with the other so that she doesn't fall from the counter top. He nestles his head in her warm little neck and blows a raspberry and she shrieks with delight, relinquishing the envelope and grabbing his arm, making a scrabble-handed tickling gesture of her own.
Making sure she's secure, Ed withdraws his arms and returns his attention to the envelope. I've always marvelled at the way he's been able to do that – to completely focus on whatever task is at hand even when Bee is there to distract him. There's a security in it. He knows that Bee is safe and he's able to take his eyes from her and deal with each job in turn. I could never do that. No matter what I was doing, I always looked in two directions – one was my task and the other was always my child. I could never take my mind off them.
It's then that Bee turns to the kitchen table and sees me. I'm sure of it. A smile plays on her lips and she almost whispers; “Mummy”, she says softly. I smile back. At the same moment Ed has opened the envelope and he lets out a soft groan. I can't see what it is yet but it's not made him happy.
He is momentarily distracted by Bee. “Mummy”, she says again. Her eyes completely focused on me. Bee can see me. Can you really see me Bee? Can you, my darling? Ed follows her stare to the kitchen table where we sit, Miles happily playing with his own hands. Ed sees nothing of course. “Please Bee...”, he begins, and I see the start of tears in his eyes. Please don't, Ed. Not in front of her. But he can't seem to help it....
My name is Jenny Mycroft, nee Adams, and my husband can't see me because I'm not there. Because I died in a car crash on the twenty third of December 1997. I watch as he takes my daughter in his arms. He is crying silently into her hair while she struggles to look back at the table where I am sitting. Except now I don't think she'll be able to see me anymore either because it's all broken.
I watch as Ed slides down the counter top, slumping onto the floor where he sits with his arms wrapped so tightly around little Bee. A sob escapes him and he is helpless. And I am helpless too. I long to put my arms around them both. To be there, to somehow touch them,but I can't because I'm not really there.
And then I see what has fallen to the ground from the envelope with which they struggled in their little game and I know why he's crying. It's a wet Saturday morning in June and my husband has found, among the week's post, my death certificate. “Jenny”, I hear him whisper into Bee's neck. Her skinny little arms have snaked around his neck and she's hugging him back. It's not the first time since Christmas 1997 that she's done this. She's too young to do this, I think.
“Jenny”, sobs Ed again, helplessly into Bee's neck. “Why did you leave us?”, Ed says. “Why did you go?”. There is no one there to hear him and louder sobs escape. He sniffs into Bee's shoulder, his whole body surrendering to the tears, shuddering, his body convulsing with distress.
And there is nothing I can do. I didn't want to leave you Ed, I think. I didn't want to go. I didn't want to leave Bee either. You have to know that. But I'm here now and I'm not leaving. Please don't cry. I'm not going to leave you now. Ever.
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