‘And just like that my boy was gone.’ Maisie Bean is a fighter. A survivor. Seventeen years ago, she went on a first date that went so badly it was enough to put the girl off chips. The marriage that followed was hell but it gave her two children: funny, caring Jeremy and bullish but brilliant Valerie. Just as it seems everything might finally start going right, sixteen-year-old Jeremy goes missing. The police descend and a media storm swirls, over five days of searching that hurtle towards an inevitable, terrible conclusion. Maisie is facing another fight, and this time it’s the fight of her life. But she’s a survivor. Whatever the odds, she’ll never give in.
Thanks to Anna and Black Swan, I have an extract to share with you today. Enjoy.
Introducing Maisie Bean Brennan
The room was silent, but for the sound of shuffling, an unidentifiable clicking and Maisie’s own heartbeat. Shuffle, click, boom, shuffle, click, boom. Calm down, ya silly old cow. It’ll be OK. She could feel her husband’s hands on her shoulders. He was standing right behind her, at the side of the stage, and she could hear him talking in her head. It’s all good, lady, you’re doing fine. Forget the sweats. Just smile. She watched her daughter Valerie limp in and lean against her stepfather, then pull off her shoe and shake out a piece of gravel. Her face and head were on fire: her latest hot flush had drenched her scalp, frizzing her lovely blow-dry at the roots. She tried to smile but her lips stuck to her upper teeth. Oh, brilliant. Now I’ll look mental. The distinguished, learned man introducing her to the stage had been talking for several minutes; clearly he liked the sound of his own voice. It was a nice voice, to be fair, posh and plummy, and he was so softly spoken it had a lulling effect as you listened.
Maisie was busy scanning the crowd and immediately spotted Deirdre, in an immaculate and expensive dark suit. Just behind her, Mitch and Jonno sat together. Mitch was eating a large ham roll, dropping half its contents on to Jonno’s lap. Years pass by . . . Everything changes, yet everything stays the same. She looked for Dave: he’d promised he’d be there if he could, but he toured a lot and his girlfriend had just given birth to twins. That’s no joke, Dave. She smiled to herself as she spotted him moving across the aisle to push a gawky teenager out of his seat so that he could sit with his old mate. John elbowed him and grinned, then tickled the back of Lynn’s neck, earning himself a shake of one of her knitting needles. Now Maisie focused on Lynn, who had been knitting since she took her seat, lost in one-plain, one-purl. Over the years Lynn had grown more and more nervous of crowds, but she had been determined to be there for her best pal, and knitting calmed her.
Everyone who had contributed to the book was there to support her. Even after all these years they stood by one another. Her heart swelled. The gang’s all here. It would be the first and possibly last – depending on how badly she ballsed it up – college lecture she’d give. Barely educated Maisie Bean Brennan lecturing a bunch of academics? It didn’t feel real, but there she was, waiting in the wings a few feet away from a large glossy poster of her book: Jeremy’s Spoken: A Recollection of Love and Misunderstanding. It was a larger-than-life photo of her sixteen-year-old son Jeremy and his best friend Rave, both glistening, fresh-faced and beaming.
She’d been looking at that photo for twenty years and it still made her well up. The plummy-accented academic looked her way. It was time. ‘Ladies and gentleman, I now take great pleasure in introducing you to Maisie Bean Brennan.’ The audience clapped and Maisie felt her husband nudge her gently on to the stage. ‘Go get ’em, Ma’sie,’ Valerie whispered. What am I doing here? The clapping died down. She stood behind the lec-tern. The room returned to silence, save for the murmur of youthful restlessness. Shuffle, click, boom, shuffle, click, boom.
Maisie cleared her throat, took a sip of water and separated her teeth from her lip. All eyes were on her. Theirs had been a story a long time in the making and it was time to tell it. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, opened them and began. ‘My name is Maisie. My husband calls me Mai and me children call me Ma’sie but yous can call me what you like.’ There was a little laughter. Maisie wasn’t sure if it was because of her opening line or accent. It didn’t really matter, so she forged on. ‘Me first-born, Jeremy, was conceived in violence and he died in violence, but while he was alive he was the light of me life.’ Maisie’s voice hitched slightly. My sweet, lovely Jeremy. ‘I’m here to talk about him and the things our short time together taught me, if yous’ll bear with me for just a little while.’
The students stopped fidgeting, whispering and gig-gling. The fancy mahogany wood-clad hall disappeared. The shuffle, click, boom, shuffle, click, boom slowly quietened. As Maisie continued, she was back in her small cottage in Tallaght, twenty years ago. It was the morning of 1 January 1995, the day her life had changed irrevocably, and the day her son’s had ended. ‘It started with my sixteen-year-old boy Jeremy waltzing his granny Bridie around the kitchen table . . .’
My verdict on Somewhere Inside of Happy.
This is one of those books that I fell into from the first page. It’s well written, compelling and probably in my top favourite books list. I knew I was going to like it but I underestimated how much.
This book is so emotional and it takes you on a bit of a rollercoaster. Even though you have an idea of how it ends, you are willing for it to have a different ending.
Maisie is an interesting character and is great and sad like all at the same time. She’s had a hard life and you want her to have some kind of break. Her life is her children and elderly mother.
There are some heartbreaking moments in this book but also some life affirming ones too.
I adored this book. I’ve fast become a fan of Anna McPartlin and I recommend this book.