07.01.21 / Contemporary Romance / Orion Books / Paperback / 384pp / 978-1409195474
About I Give It A Year
Her husband’s moved out – and her dad’s moved in…
Curl up with the page-turning story full of emotion about family, marriage and second chances
It’s New Year’s Eve, and Iris has just found out that her husband, Adam, is cheating on her. Furious, she kicks him out, and enlists her Dad to move in and help with the children whilst she tries to mend her broken heart.
But her Dad soon starts to display signs of Alzheimer’s, and Iris realises that if she loses her partner, she’ll be managing an awful lot on her own. Soon, she realises that Adam wasn’t the only one taking their marriage for granted, and for the sake of the children she decides to give him one more chance.
But is it braver to stay than to run? And can anyone fall in love with the same person twice?
I Give It A Year Extract
31 December, 11.59 p.m.
Ten . . .
The telly blares with the sound of pissed-up revellers as the camera pans down the Thames. Fifteen years ago, I would have been there with them, having spent all evening jostling for a spot and dying for a wee so I was in a good position for the countdown.
Nine . . .
I’m so glad I’m not on a packed riverbank, drinking Prosecco that’s only cold because the temperature is Baltic and pretending to have a good time while worrying about how busy the tube station will be post-midnight.
Eight . . .
At least Jack and Sav are asleep. Finally. The best thing about having young kids is that you can use them as a convenient excuse to get out of things you don’t want to do.
‘Sorry, no babysitter!’ is the best get out of jail card of all time.
Seven . . .
Even if most of the time it’s a total ball-ache having no babysitter, because it means you can’t do things you genuinely want to do either.
Six . . .
But New Year’s Eve definitely doesn’t fall into that category. I’m not even bothered about sitting here alone, watching the countdown on TV, while Adam is up in Sheffield.
Five . . .
It’s not as though he’s up there having a good time. Having to get on a rammed train from London on New Year’s Eve to give your thirty-seven-year-old brother a talking to because he’s possibly-maybe-almost-certainly been barred from another pub in the city centre, and they want some money for damages otherwise they’re pressing charges. Cheers, Gabe. Happy sodding New Year.
Four . . .
That’s a point. I bet Adam had to pay the landlord. Not that he’d have mentioned it to me. He always gets funny with me if I bring up lending Gabe money.
Three . . .
Two . . .
The last time he did it he didn’t even tell me, and I went overdrawn on the joint account paying the deposit for Center Parcs.
One . . .
Thousands of people scream ‘HAPPY NEW YEAR’ and hug each other as Big Ben bongs in the background. Fireworks erupt, filling the screen with colour and smoke, and the BBC presenter out on location tries to finish her link above the din.
‘The British public was assured that the great clock’s bongs would be temporarily
restored during important national events, such as New Year and Remembrance Sunday, until restoration work is completed.’
I drain the dregs of my white wine. The rest of the bottle is in the fridge and for a second I contemplate getting a refill, before yawning and remembering that, despite it taking until 10 p.m. to wrestle the kids into bed, they will almost certainly be up pre-6 a.m., as is the unwritten law when you’ve been left to parent solo and have imbibed more than two units of alcohol. Instead, I flick off the telly and fire a message to Adam.
Hope it’s not a nightmare up there. Happy New Year. X
He’s probably already asleep at his mum’s house, back in the single bed in the room he used to share with Gabe. The patch of floor in front of me simultaneously lights up and chirrups. Bloody kids! Adam’s iPad lies abandoned, screen up, on the carpet, half concealed by Christmas toys that they’ve already got bored of. My text appears in the corner, obscuring part of the photo on his home screen, a selfie where we’re all smushed together in front of the London Eye. You can barely see the wheel because it’s all grinning faces, or in Jack’s case, him anarchically shouting ‘poo’ when Adam said, ‘Everyone say cheese.’ I pick up the tablet and put it on the table while I look for its case, clearing a few other stray toys from the area. The house looks like a bomb-site, with discarded superheroes, cardboard boxes and foot-shattering bits of Lego all over the carpet. The kids have insisted on keeping every single bit of tat from every Christmas cracker, so there’s endless plastic crap spilling out from the toy drawers we’re now resigned to having in our once relatively stylish living room. I pick up the debris – Sylvanian, Sylvanian, Spider-Man wearing a Sylvanian’s outfit (Jack will be livid) – and find the case underneath the Millennium Falcon. It’s plastered with fairy stickers, which makes me grin. Sav’s handiwork. Adam will look very cool reading the Guardian on his iPad on the tube when he goes back to work on Thursday. The screen lights up again as I pick it up. Another message. That it’s simply from ‘J’ makes me look more closely. I can only see the preview.
Thanks for partying with me like it’s 1995 again . . .
Who’s J? And what party? He’s with his brother, sorting out yet another catastrophe of Gabe’s own creation. That’s what he said anyway. Maybe he went out for a drink after clearing up Gabe’s mess and bumped into someone he knew. I can’t begrudge him that. What’s a night off from the kids if you can’t have a spontaneous night out at the pub? But that doesn’t tell me who J is. Heart fluttering, there’s a second when I don’t want to know, but my suspicions quickly take over and I swipe the screen open, tapping the passcode – Jack and Sav’s birthdays – onto the landing page. My stomach plunges as the full message appears, along with the rest of a thread that goes back way further than tonight.
Thanks for partying with me like it’s 1995 again. Shame I have a flight or we could have got drunk and seen in the New Year together properly – although sparkling water and a king-size at the Hotel du Vin is a bit more glam than cider and sneaking
into my old bedroom back at my parents’. x
1995. A flight. An old bedroom. In 1995, Adam was a sixth-former in Sheffield. And he was going out with a girl called Jules. Amazing Jules, who broke his heart when she went off to a different uni, and whose brilliant career as a pilot was mentioned on one of our early dates and has provided fodder for my lower self-esteem moments ever since. Adam’s reply is almost instant.
Safe trip. Text me when you get back x
He hasn’t replied to my message. The tablet trembles in my hand so I grip it a bit tighter. I can hear whooping and music outside, through the walls of our North London terraced house and drifting along the street, but even through the bangs and whistles the sound of my own breath catching is louder. It feels like my body is pulsating but my mind is clear, focused. Because I instantly know it’s not going to turn out to be a misunderstanding. He’s never even mentioned seeing Jules, so how can it be? I swipe my shaky finger down the page to reach the start of their conversation. It scrolls and scrolls and scrolls, new messages loading up every time I think I’ve got to the top, my eyes blurring with tears as they settle on the odd word or phrase as messages whizz past.
It looks like sometimes they’ve exchanged several messages a day, and sometimes days have gone by with no contact. Eventually, the window bounces, going back no further. Five months ago: 5 August, 11.07 a.m. A blue bubble showing that Adam sent the first message.
Hi, this is my number these days.
Seven words that blow apart my night. My year. My life.
About Helen Whitaker
Helen Whitaker is a 37-year-old, journalist and mum-of-one living in Walthamstow. She is the former Entertainment Director of Glamour, and has written for a number of publications including Stella, The Telegraph, Fabulous and Total Film. Helen is currently Deputy Editor at British Airways High Life magazine.