Kate Ryder shares an extract from her new book, Summer in a Cornish Cove.
Oliver leans over and switches on a side lamp, the glow from the fire no longer casting sufficient light to read the script lying open on his lap. He has been in his study for most of the day – in fact, the previous three days – but has yet to decide if the film is for him. His agent is right; it is a lucrative deal and the role is substantial. But, it will mean months away from the family on location. Can he face that again?
Despite Deanna and the kids being at home, it’s quiet in the house and he knows they are giving him the space he needs. It’s a well-honed strategy, perfected over twenty-plus years of marriage, and his children have never known anything different. It doesn’t make it any easier to survive the ‘grey mist’, as they call it, but it does allow him time to assimilate and finally accept, to some degree, the despair and confusion that have plagued him since childhood.
Oliver sighs. Laying the script on the floor, he rises and places another log on the fire. It spits and sends sparks flying up the chimney. The study is his inner sanctum and this is where he spends a great deal of time. He wanders over to the French doors. There is still enough light to look out across the extensive, manicured lawns down to the lake at the edge of the woods that stretch as far as the eye can see. Most of it does not belong to him; the forestry is in the ownership of the National Trust. All is still, with no sign of the threatened snow the weather forecasters have predicted, and he watches as a wintry sun sets behind the North Downs rising beyond the tree line. It’s a great house, Hunter’s Moon, and one that has comfortably provided the space in which to raise a family away from prying eyes. Located down a long track leading only to a public car park in the woods, it is secluded and away from other properties yet close enough to be part of the wider community, should they so desire.
Oliver breathes in deeply.
His first major film role – the one that set him apart from other actors of his age and firmly established him as a player of note in the British film industry – presented itself only a year after leaving drama school. At the time, his parents worried he wouldn’t be able to handle the fame and success so early in his career but Deanna was there for him. He smiles fondly as he remembers her arrival in the second year of his acting degree. She instantly stood out from the huddle of new students, the most attractive to him by far, not least because of her all-pervading, no-nonsense strength that filled the room, even then. She was not there to study acting but had enrolled on the stage management course. Nothing shallow about Deanna; she is his rock. Soon after the film’s release they married in a small, private ceremony with only close friends and family present. However, almost immediately following their honeymoon, Hollywood came knocking. Relocating to Los Angeles for a couple of years, he worked the circuit and established himself as a leading man on both sides of the Atlantic. His chiselled looks, expressive eyes and ability to tackle characters with a sympathy and depth beyond his years stood him in good stead and only Deanna was aware of the pain that lurked behind the handsome mask.
With his Hollywood breakthrough came the money. Receiving sound advice from his accountant, he invested in a substantial house with accompanying land, set on the edge of an affluent village in the Surrey Hills, safe in the knowledge that wherever his career took him Hunter’s Moon would be a lifetime home for his family. Close enough to London and the airports to enable him to continue his international career with ease, the property would also give the children, Deanna and he planned to have, the opportunity of experiencing as normal a life as possible; not one distorted by the excesses surrounding Oliver’s chosen career, but a life grounded in the countryside. Over the following years they witnessed many of their friends’ burnout and knew their decision during the early days of their marriage had been a good one.
Deanna loved the house as soon as she saw the sales particulars. Oliver recalls his wife’s mounting excitement as they sat together one morning on the balcony of their LA rental apartment, the intense heat beating down and the relentless smog lingering on the horizon. He watched her devour the estate agent’s particulars, amazed at his ‘rock’s’ display of emotion. At the time, she was four months pregnant and prone to severe bouts of morning sickness. Ever stoic, she said nothing, but he knew she was desperate to return to the UK. The general emptiness of the people surrounding them in Los Angeles did not sit comfortably with his young wife and, being pregnant and unemployed, Deanna had plenty of time to think. As soon as filming wrapped they returned to the UK in time for Samantha to be born on British soil.
Oliver sighs deeply. He knows this memory process is cathartic. His therapist explained it was this act of counting his blessings that allowed him to emerge once more from the gloom and into the sun. But it’s taking a long time, this time…
Set against a gloriously rugged Cornish backdrop, two lives are about to be changed for ever…
Oliver Foxley is an acclaimed movie star and global heartthrob. But under the glare of the spotlight his perfect life – and marriage – is slowly starting to crumble. Cara Penhaligon is a struggling young Cornish artist, and widowed mother of two children. Life has been unbearably harsh to Cara, but meeting Oliver might just give her a second chance at the happiness she deserves. As each begins to heal the other, the pieces of Oliver’s frustrating jigsaw puzzle effortlessly fall into place. But as the Cornish summer draws to a close, Oliver faces the toughest of choices, and no one emerges quite as they were at the start.
Kate Ryder has worked in a number of industries including publishing, mainly as a proof-reader/copy editor and writer for a national newspaper, magazines and publishing houses. She is a member of the New Writers Scheme with the Romantic Novelists Association, and published her first novel in 2013. Kate lives in a renovated 200-year-old sawmill in the beautiful Tamar Valley with her husband and a collection of animals.