Extract and #Win a copy of Love or Nearest Offer by @adelegeras @QuercusBooks #lono

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love or nearest offer by Adele Geras



What if your estate agent could find you not just your perfect house, but your perfect job, your perfect partner... your perfect new life?

On paper, Iris Atkins is an estate agent, but she's not just good at finding suitable houses for her clients. In fact, she has a gift: Iris is able to see into their lives and understand exactly what is missing and what they need - and not just in bricks-and-mortar terms either.

Of course, concentrating so much on fixing other people's problems doesn't leave much time for examining your own. Over the course of one whirlwind year Iris discovers that while she may know what's best for everyone else, she doesn't necessarily know what's best for herself - and what she finds out could make her happier than she'd ever dreamed of.


Extract from Love or Nearest offer:


IRIS

There were times when Iris Atkins felt old. Holly and Dom, who
worked with her at Robinson & Tyler, estate agents, looked a
great deal younger. Holly was twenty-four, a techno whizz, who
rode a motorbike and emphasized the teenage look by gelling
her hair into forbidding spikes – though they tended to flop by
the end of the day. Dom resembled someone from a boy band,
which went down well with female customers of a certain age,
and even though many people thought he was nineteen, he
was, in fact, twenty-nine. I’m only three years older, Iris thought,
but I look like his mother. That wasn’t quite true, but she certainly
qualified as a very much older sister. On good days, she
liked to think of herself as a slightly dishevelled Emilia Fox, but
today she felt like a small blonde person who hadn’t had time to
wash her hair before work because she’d been busy having a
row with the man who used to be her boyfriend.
There was also this: when her friends started talking about
their children, their mortgages or their husbands, Iris realized
that being totally unencumbered by such things at the age
of thirty-two was much more common than it used to be, but still
a little odd. To hear them talk, she thought, anyone would think
I was on the shelf, past it, doomed to a single life for ever.
That wasn’t strictly true. She’d been living with Neil for
more than six months but as of this morning, that was over.
She sighed, gritted her teeth and thought: I’m not going to cry
now. She’d kept it together since coming into the office rather
late, at half past nine. This morning, almost before they were
both properly awake, she and Neil had quarrelled bitterly. She’d
thrown as many of her things as she could manage into a suitcase
and flung it into the back of her car. ‘I missed my shower
and you’ve made me late for work as well,’ she’d shouted, as she
left the flat. ‘Thanks a bunch.’
On the way to Robinson & Tyler, she’d calmed down a bit.
Still, today had been awful. She’d sleepwalked through the
morning. Fortunately, her only house showing was in an hour,
at half past two. Holly and Dom were absorbed in something or
other, which was quite unusual for lunchtime on Friday, when
work normally began to wind down a little. Bruce was on the
phone – Iris could hear him from the other side of the room.
‘Ah, well, the chickens are coming home to roost with a
vengeance, aren’t they?’ he said, and chuckled. Clichés were
scattered through Bruce’s speech, like currants in a bun, but he
had a kind heart and a jolly outlook on life. He looked like James
Corden but that chummy exterior belied a rather shrewd mind.
Robinson & Tyler was a London-wide firm and their office in
Barnet was tiny. Other branches had electronic displays in the
window, showing off the best and newest properties, but theirs
was still what Bruce liked to call ‘reassuringly traditional’,
which meant a bit grotty. There was a wooden ladder arrangement
in the window and it was Holly’s job to print out photos
of the new houses, and put them up for prospective buyers to
see. One of Iris’s tasks was to go over the text to make sure it
wasn’t full of spelling mistakes; Holly had a bit of a blind spot
with some words.
Iris’s desk was nearest the window. She had a good view of
the coroner’s court, St John’s Church and a bit of the high
street. The office was conveniently situated: Carluccio had just
opened a restaurant in the Spires, Barnet’s own little shopping
mall, which also had branches of Waterstone’s, Costa, Starbucks,
and even Waitrose. At the back of the Spires, there was
a big library. A person hardly needed to go into London at all,
and many Londoners were trying to move into this area, which
was good news for Robinson & Tyler.
Iris looked at her diary. She was meeting someone called Patrick
Taylor at two thirty. There was time to ring her mother,
which she ought to do if she was intending to turn up on her
doorstep after work. She took a deep breath.



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