Today it is my great pleasure to bring you an extract from Jo Platt’s new book, Finding Felix, as part of the blog tour. My thanks to Ellie Pilcher at Canelo for inviting me to join the tour. Before we take a look at it, let’s see what the book is all about.
About the Book
A family wedding. A fake boyfriend. A recipe for disaster! A funny, feel-good romantic comedy from bestseller Jo Platt
Singleton Dot Riley’s grandmother, Nanny Flo, is on her deathbed, surrounded by family and distraught at the thought of Dot being all alone in the world. Desperate to make Flo’s final moments happy ones, Dot invents a boyfriend – plumping in panic for her childhood friend, Felix, a firm favourite of Flo, but whom Dot hasn’t actually seen for 15 years.
But when Flo makes an unexpected recovery a few weeks before a family wedding, Dot is faced with a dilemma. Should she tell her frail grandmother that she lied and risk causing heartache and a relapse? Or should she find Felix and take him to the wedding?
Dot opts for finding Felix. But it’s not long before she discovers that finding him is the easy bit: liking him is the real challenge.
An uplifting romantic comedy about finding something you didn’t even know you were looking for. Finding Felix is perfect for fans of Anna Bell, Tracy Bloom and Debbie Viggiano.
Friday 28 April 2017
I looked across the hospital bed at my mother, her hand resting gently on top of Nanny Flo’s, her head bowed. Dad, sitting to her right, offered me a brave smile, which I did my best to return.
‘Are you OK, Dot?’ he mouthed.
I nodded and turned my head towards my sister. Becca was sitting at the foot of the bed, staring at our grandmother, her expression glazed and unreadable. I wondered if she, like me, was remembering all the love and laughter we had shared with the usually vibrant eighty-six-year-old woman who was now lying in front of us, so pale and fragile. I turned back to Nanny Flo just as her closed eyes flickered. My father nudged my mother and all four of us leaned forward simultaneously. I reached out and took Nanny Flo’s left hand.
‘Hello, Mum,’ said my mother gently. ‘Can you hear me? We’re all here: me, Donald, Dottie and Becca. All of us.’
My grandmother’s brow furrowed slightly and then, after a moment, her eyes opened. ‘Dottie?’ she murmured. ‘Our Dorothy passed away years ago.’
Mum bit her lip and looked at Dad. ‘The doctor said she might be confused.’
I squeezed my grandmother’s hand. ‘Not your sister, Nanny. It’s me, little Dottie, your granddaughter. I took the train to Exeter from Bristol to see you.’
Her head turned slowly towards me and she smiled weakly. ‘Little Dottie,’ she said.
I nodded rapidly, taking a moment to steady my voice before I spoke. ‘That’s right,’ I smiled. ‘And Becca, too. Look.’ I pointed towards my sister. ‘She’s driven from Bishops Cannings.’
‘Hello, Nanny,’ said Becca, with impressive brightness in the circumstances, although I could see the enormous effort behind it.
‘Have I missed… the christening, Becca?’ asked Nanny Flo, pausing mid sentence to take a breath.
My mother sighed. ‘It’s not a christening, Mum,’ she said. ‘It’s a wedding. Becca’s getting married… to Mark. You remember Mark. He’s a policeman.’
Nanny Flo’s eyes closed. ‘Lovely boy,’ she said. ‘Like Dixon of Dock Green.’
Dad laughed and my mother smiled even as a tear escaped and rolled down her cheek. She hurriedly brushed it away.
‘You’ll have to help choose the flowers for the bouquets, Nanny,’ said Becca.
The rest of us nodded and murmured our approval of this plan, despite the fact that a doctor had gently intimated less than an hour ago that my grandmother’s pneumonia meant that she might not see tomorrow, let alone my sister’s wedding in three months’ time.
‘Becca can’t decide between white roses and lily of the valley,’ I said. ‘I suppose she could have both, couldn’t she?’
With what seemed like an enormous effort, Nanny Flo reopened her eyes. ‘I had lily of the valley,’ she said. ‘Wonderful perfume. Will you have that at your wedding, Dottie?’
I smiled. ‘I can’t see me getting married any time soon, Nanny.’
Her expression darkened. ‘You’re not all on your own, are you?’
Surprised by her reaction and kicking myself for the thoughtlessness of my comment, I rushed to reassure her. ‘I’m fine. I love Bristol and I’ve got lots of friends. I’m very lucky.’ I looked at my mother, who nodded vigorously.
‘Yes, Dot’s not lonely, Mum,’ she said. ‘She has a very busy social life.’
My grandmother turned towards her. ‘What about that lovely boy who’s always calling round after school? The cuddly one.’
‘Dot is thirty-six now, Mum,’ said my mother. ‘School was a long time ago.’
‘Hair all over the place, like a young Ken Dodd,’ murmured Nanny Flo. ‘Likes his food. Washes up in the hotel at weekends. Nice boy. Perfect for Dottie.’
Mum looked puzzled and turned to Dad, who shrugged.
‘She means Felix Davis, Mum,’ whispered Becca, before looking at me and smiling.
‘That’s right.’ I smiled back at her, thinking of Felix for the first time in years.
‘Oh, of course. Yes, Felix,’ said my mother. ‘You’re right, he was a lovely, kind boy. But he was the other way, Mum,’ she said, raising her voice slightly. ‘He wasn’t after a girlfriend.’
Despite the circumstances, I couldn’t help sighing at my mother’s long-held and continuing conviction that any male friend who failed to show a romantic interest in me must be either the other way or afraid of his feelings.
Nanny Flo frowned. ‘So he’s not with her, Helen?’ she said. It was as if I was no longer in the room.
‘They were just friends, Mum, and they still are.’ My mother looked up at me and widened her eyes, a clear warning not to contradict her. I frowned. As if I would.
‘That’s right,’ I said.
‘But who is going to look after her?’ murmured Nanny Flo.
‘I can look after myself,’ I smiled.
Reminded of my presence, Nanny Flo turned her head slowly back towards me. She stared expressionlessly at me for a moment, saying nothing, and then, without warning, her face suddenly and unexpectedly crumpled, a single tear escaping from the corner of her left eye and trickling down her cheek before being absorbed by the pillow. ‘You’re alone,’ she gasped. ‘All alone.’
Appalled, I looked to my mother for support. Her hand was now over her mouth.
‘Flo,’ said Dad, stepping into the breach, ‘don’t fret over this. Dot is very happy.’
‘She has no one,’ she replied with a slight shudder, as if terrified by the thought. ‘I do worry.’
‘Mum…’ began my mother, but she got no further. Her tears were now flowing silently but unchecked and she was clearly beyond words.
My grandmother uttered a low, prolonged moan and began to sob.
‘Oh please don’t cry, Nanny,’ I begged. ‘I’m very happy.’
‘Dot is so happy,’ echoed Becca, leaning forward, now also on the verge of tears.
‘I am,’ I insisted quietly, my heart breaking to see the three women I loved most in the world so distraught. ‘I am.’
I looked at my mother. Her head was once again bowed, and she leaned against Dad as he gently pulled her towards him. Becca too had lowered her head, and Nanny Flo’s chest heaved with the painful effort of taking the deep breaths required by her sobs.
I covered my face with my hands, despairing at the heartache I had caused, and desperate to put an end to the distress so carelessly kick-started. My grandmother was dying and I had single-handedly managed to make the most agonising situation my family had ever had to face even more unbearable.
And then suddenly, just as heartbreak, guilt and hopelessness threatened to overwhelm me, the solution became obvious. I lowered my hands and sat up. ‘I’ve got a boyfriend,’ I blurted. ‘I haven’t mentioned him before because we haven’t been going out for very long, but it’s going really well,’ I continued, the words spilling out of me. ‘Really, really well.’
If that has whet your appetite and you’d like to read Finding Felix for yourself then you can pick up a copy at the following retailers:
About the Author
Jo Platt was born in Liverpool in 1968 and, via the extremely winding route of rural Wiltshire, London, Seattle and St Albans, she is now happily settled in Bristol with her husband and two daughters. She studied English at King’s College London before going on to work in the City for ten years. In 2000 she escaped into motherhood and part-time employment, first as an assistant teacher in a Seattle pre-school and then was a Bristol-based secretary to her husband.
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