THE SEVEN IMPERFECT RULES OF ELVIRA CARR BLOG TOUR
TITLE: THE SEVEN IMPERFECT RULES OF ELVIRA CARR
AUTHOR: FRANCES MAYNARD
PIBLICATION DATE: 24 th AUGUST 2017
Hi Everyone 🙋🏽
Welcome to my stop on the #TheSevenImperfectRulesOfElviraCarr thank you so much to #Netgalley and the publisher for my Arc copy. Don’t dorget to follow the tour and check out the other inspirational bloggers by using the hashtag!
Today I’m sharing an extract that I hope will give you a taste of the book! ENJOY 📖☕️
Elvira Carr is twenty-seven and neuro-atypical. Her father – who she suspects was in the secret service – has passed away and, after several Unfortunate Incidents growing up, she now spends most of her time at home with her overbearing mother. But when her mother has a stroke and is taken into care, Elvira is suddenly forced to look after herself or risk ending up in Sheltered Accommodation. Armed with her Seven Rules, which she puts together after online research, Elvira hopes to learn how to navigate a world that’s full of people she doesn’t understand. Not even the Seven Rules can help her, however, when she discovers that everything she thought she knew about her father was a lie, and is faced with solving a mystery she didn’t even know existed . . .
The house felt strange without Mother there. It was very quiet. I like quietness, usually, but this time there was too much of it. I liked Mother going out but that was because I knew when she was coming back. She taught a U3A Appreciating Opera Class on Tuesday mornings, which was unpaid, but rewarding in other ways. I’d thought U3A was a code, or even a type of glue, but Mother said it stood for the University of the Third Age, which meant older people exercising their brains. She liked Operas. She played CDs of them in the living room and the noise vibrated through my head. Mother knew the stories behind Operas. She’d got my name, Elvira, from an Opera by a famous composer called Mozart. Mother was the only person who called me Elvira. At school they’d called me Ellie – at least, the teachers had. And Poppy, the friend I sat next to at lunchtimes. Sylvia-next-door called me Ellie too.
Mother belonged to the Civic Society. They met every other Wednesday at three o’clock, in the next road. She only went to their meetings when she approved of the building they were trying to protect. I didn’t like not knowing if she was going to go or not. I prefer a routine.
She went to the Bridge Club at the Church Hall too (Bridge is a card game, but far too complicated for you, Elvira), and organized the Refreshment Rota there. Father had once been chairman and treasurer of the Bridge Club, but he’d had to resign suddenly because of commitments abroad. Mother had left at the same time, but after three weeks she’d said Why should I hide away? and gone back.
She enjoyed Bridge even though there was sometimes unpleasantness. Once a man had accused her of hiding a card, and there was often what she called an inquest from her partner. When I was younger she used to get cross when I said Snap! at the wrong time so I supposed it was the same sort of thing. Cards must bring that out in people.
When Mother went out I could take off my slippers and read a Mills & Boon. I like Mills & Boons because I know what’s going to happen in the end. I don’t like surprises. Mother collapsing had been a big surprise. Having no idea when she’d be coming back felt like sand shifting away beneath my toes.
Her stick, black, with a silver handle in the shape of a lion, was lying on the floor now, next to where she’d been sitting. I picked it up and propped it against the arm of her chair to make it feel as if she was still there.
I put my feet up on Mother’s red velvet footstool and shut my eyes to try to get used to the situation.
I still wasn’t used to it when I opened them again. What I found calming was sameness and there wasn’t any. I cooked my lunch – scrambled eggs and two slices of toast and a cup of tea – which was what I always had, but even that was different because I normally had it at one o’clock. Because of Mother’s collapse it was gone three o’clock. I ate it at the kitchen table with my Mills & Boon, Affairs of the Heart, open beside me. Strangely enough, it was set in a hospital, in the Intensive Care Ward. I usually like reading but today my brain kept getting stuck on the word hospital, and then my heart would start thudding again and I’d have to put the book down.
When I was small Mother used to read to me at bed-time. They were Mother’s choice of books: children’s books set in Roman times (At least you will be learning something , Elvira), or the stories of Operas, or true-life accounts of famous women explorers. I only liked the children’s books, except that Mother read the bits about fighting or slavery in them very fast, and kept stopping at Historical Details to explain things. Things I didn’t really want to know. My eyes would start to close but I had to stay awake because sometimes, the next day, she’d ask me the name of a country a particular woman had explored, or what the Romans had eaten for breakfast. Sometimes she’d sit down with me while I looked up a word I hadn’t known in a dictionary and wrote it down. I’d liked Mother sitting reading to me, and her saying Well done if I remembered the word the next day.
I blinked myself back to the present and closed Affairs of the Heart. Mother didn’t approve of Mills & Boons. Or any made-up stories. Most of the books in the study had belonged to Father. He’d read a lot. Thrillers he’d liked, and spy stories. (Mother would sniff and say it was because he’d had plenty of time to read, with nothing else to do, which always surprised me because Father had been a busy and energetic person.) Mother especially didn’t like fiction if I read it during meals because sharing food means sharing conversation. She read out snippets from the Daily Telegraph instead. Bits about violent teenagers or benefit fraudsters or vegetarians. Or she read out crossword clues. Often she got the answer while she was reading out the clue and wrote it in. I wasn’t very good at crosswords, not the cryptic ones.
That’s good, Mother, I’d say as she leant back, smiling, putting the top on her Sheaffer pen.
Not bad for seventy-two. Do you see, Elvira, why the answer was . . . ?
I’d nod because if I said I didn’t understand, she’d sigh in a tired sort of way, and go through it all again, and it took a long time.
When I finished my cup of tea I phoned the hospital. Mother kept useful numbers, like the Bridge Club and the Library, in the front of an address book by the phone. The numbers for the Hospital and the Doctor and the Dentist were written in extra-large writing.
I held on to my apron while I listened to the ringing at the other end. I hardly ever made phone calls.
‘Um. My mother. They took her away in an ambulance. They—’
‘Accident and Emergency. Putting you through.’
‘Hello. A and E. Sister James speaking.’
‘My mother. She came to you just before lunch. Mrs Agnes Carr.’ The phone was slippery in my hand. My heart began to thump again. I wasn’t sure what to say.
‘And you are?’
‘I am Elvira Carr. I live at forty-one—’ I began to tell Sister James my address but she stopped me. I knew it off by heart, including the postcode, and my telephone number and its area code. Mother used to make me repeat them to her.
‘You are her daughter?’
‘Yes,’ I said. ‘I’m an only child. She—’
‘Your mother has had some tests.’
‘Oh. Did she pass?’ Mother was clever. She’d be good at tests.
There was a pause. ‘We don’t have the results yet. Do you know if your mother takes any medication?’
‘Yes, I do know. One Digoxin at breakfast time. A blue one.’ I remembered the Digoxin because it was made from foxgloves and because Tosca, our Airedale, had had it too, when she was old. It was good for the heart.
An Airedale was a kind of terrier. There were fifty-one different breeds of terrier. Airedales were second, alphabetically, after Aberdeens.
‘Thank you. What is your mother’s speech like normally?’
I screwed up the hem of my apron. Speech? She’d often made speeches about Operas on cruise ships but . . .
‘Does your mother talk in a normal way?’
This was another difficult question to answer because I didn’t know what ‘normal’ was. Only that Mother said I wasn’t.
‘She talks a lot. And she’s learning Italian from a CD. So she’ll understand all the words in Operas.’
There was another pause. ‘Once we’ve finished the tests, we’ll be sending your mother to Jersey Ward, in our older people’s unit.’ Another pause. ‘Jersey Ward,’ she repeated.
I knew Mother wouldn’t be happy about that because of not being old. Or older.
‘How long will she be there for?’ I bunched up my apron again.
‘I really can’t say. If you want to visit, visiting hours are from two to four and from seven to eight. Do you need to write that down?’ Before I could answer, though, she said, ‘Thank you’, and hung up.
‘Thank you,’ I echoed. I put the phone down and leant against Father’s desk with my eyes shut, waiting for my heartbeat to slow.