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The Original "Getting Real"

The Original "Getting Real"
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Friday, 5 February 2010

By Any Other Name

Many years ago, I had a first-hand experience of meeting with an elderly lady who had been confined in a psychiatric hospital since her early 20s and was completely institutionalised and unable to live independently. At the time of her confinement, however, she had been a perfectly healthy young woman and the sole reason for her commitment to the place was that she had had a child and was not married. I believe this was not an uncommon practice in the first half of the last century and the hypocrisy that led to so many wasted lives is so tragic.

Although my first novel By Any Other Name was loosely inspired by this story, it is set in the late 1980s and has quite a different twist to it.

Excerpt from the opening chapter:

It occurred to Maria that even in death there could be no equality among the people of Farnleigh. On the western side of the church, tall white shrines of stone stood guarded by golden angels. Here, in the permanent shadow of the trees, unmarked mounds grew to waste beside rows of uniform grey headstones engraved with the names of eight or nine paupers of the last century. The workhouse graves, the penny graves, the sixpenny graves; the hierarchical burial system of deciding how near a body should lie to the church according to what the relatives were willing or able to pay.

Maria moved slowly from one stone to the next, pausing occasionally to clear away the moss with her finger before moving on. Sometimes she turned, startled by leaves falling into the undergrowth behind her, and she held her breath against the stench of decaying fruit and foliage emanating from the mounds of earth.

Available on Amazon Kindle: By Any Other Name

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