I am pleased to be welcoming Jane Lambert to the blog today and her tour for her novel, Learning to Fly.
Forty-year-old air stewardess Emily Forsyth has everything a woman could wish for: a glamorous, jet-set lifestyle, a designer wardrobe and a dishy pilot of a husband-in-waiting to match. But when he leaves her to ‘find himself’ (forgetting to mention the bit about ‘… a younger girlfriend’), Emily’s perfect world comes crashing down. Catapulted into a mid-life crisis, she is forced to take stock and make some major changes. She ditches her job and enrols on a drama course in pursuit of her childhood dream, positive that, in no time at all, she’ll be posing in Prada on the red carpet and her ex will rue the day he dumped her. Wrong! Her chosen path proves to be an obstacle course littered with odd jobs and humiliating auditions; from performing Macbeth single-handedly at Scone Palace to chauffeuring the world’s top golfers at St Andrews – and getting hopelessly lost.
If she is to survive, she must learn to be happy with less, and develop a selective memory to cope with more than her fair share of humiliating auditions. She tells herself her big break is just around the corner. But is it too late to be chasing dreams?
Jane has very kindly shared an extract from the novel. Enjoy.
It is never too late to be what you might have been ̴ George Eliot
Reasons for and against giving up the glitzy, glamorous world of flying:
- No more cleaning up other people’s sick.
- No more 2 a.m. wake-up calls, jet lag, swollen feet/ stomach or shrivelled-up skin.
- No more tedious questions like, ‘What’s that lake/ mountain down there?’ and ‘Does the mile high club really exist?’
- No more serving kippers and poached eggs at 4 a.m. to passengers with dog-breath and smelly socks.
- No more risk of dying from deep vein thrombosis, malaria or yellow fever.
- No more battles with passengers who insist that their flat-pack gazebo will fit into the overhead locker.
- No more wearing a permanent smile and a name badge.
- No danger of bumping into ex-boyfriend and his latest ‘I’m-Debbie-come-fly-me’.
- No more fake Prada, Louis Vuitton or Gucci.
- No more lazing by the pool in winter.
- No more ten-hour retail therapy sessions in shopping malls the size of a small island — and getting paid for it.
- No more posh hotel freebies (toiletries, slippers, fluffy bathrobes etc.).
- Holidays (if any) now to be taken in Costa del Cheapo, as opposed to Barbados or Bora Bora.
- No more horse riding around the pyramids, imagining I’m a desert queen.
- No more ice skating in Central Park, imagining I’m Ali MacGraw in Love Story.
- Having to swap my riverside apartment for a shoebox, and my Mazda convertible for a pushbike.
‘Cabin crew, ten minutes to landing. Ten minutes, please,’ comes the captain’s olive-oil-smooth voice over the intercom. This is it. No going back. I’m past the point of no return.
The galley curtain swishes open — it’s showtime!
I switch on my full-beam smile and enter upstage left, pushing my trolley for the very last time …
‘Anyheadsetsanyrubbishlandingcard? Anyheadsetsanyrubbishlandingcard? …’
Have I taken leave of my senses? The notion of an actress living in a garret, sacrificing everything for the sake of her art, seemed so romantic when I gaily handed in my notice three months ago, but now I’m not so sure …
Be positive! Just think, a couple of years from now, you could be sipping coffee with Phil and Holly on the This Morning sofa …
Yes, Phil, the rumours are true … I have been asked to appear on Strictly Come Dancing. God only knows how I’ll fit it around my filming commitments though.
Who are you kidding? A couple of years from now, the only place you’ll be appearing is the job centre, playing Woman On Income Support.
This follow-your-dreams stuff is all very well when you’re in your twenties, or thirties even, but I’m a forty-year-old woman with no rich husband (or any husband for that matter) to bail me out if it all goes pear-shaped. Just as everyone around me is having a loft extension or a late baby, I’m downsizing my whole lifestyle to enter a profession that boasts a ninety-two percent unemployment rate.
Why in God’s name, in this wobbly economic climate, am I putting myself through all this angst and upheaval, when I could be pushing my trolley until I’m sixty, then retire comfortably on an ample pension and one free flight a year?
Something happened, out of the blue, that catapulted me from my ordered, happy-go-lucky existence and forced me down a different road …
‘It’s not your fault. It’s me. I’m confused,’ Nigel had said.