It's their twenty-year school reunion but the Plunkett sisters have their own reasons for not wanting to attend ...
Caroline, now a successful knitwear designer, spends her time flying between her business in England and her lover in Italy. As far as she's concerned, her school days, and what happened to her the year she left, should stay in the past.
Eleanor, meanwhile, is unrecognisable from the fun-loving girl she was in school. With a son who is barely speaking to her, and a husband keeping a secret from her, revisiting the past is the last thing on her mind.
But when an unexpected letter arrives for Caroline in the weeks before the reunion, memories are stirred.
Will the sisters find the courage to return to the town where they grew up and face what they've been running from all these years?
Guest Post: Back to School
Most of the time I love what I do. Sitting at my kitchen table, tapping away on the laptop – particularly when the weather is atrocious, and the stove is blazing – has got to be one of the best ways to earn a living.
But there are other days, when the rain dries up and the sun emerges. There are days when the Muse is busy in another writer’s house, and I mightn’t have had a face-to-face conversation with anyone for three days, and the deadline for finishing the manuscript is a comfortable distance away. These are the days when I’m delighted to open my inbox and find someone, anyone, looking for me.
I was lucky enough to be accepted onto the database of writers who feature in Poetry Ireland’s Writers in Schools Scheme. This means that I can be found by any teacher who’s searching for someone to come to the school to talk to the children about the joys of writing for a living, or to tell stories to the ones too young for a writer talk. I also get occasional calls from libraries, bookshops and book clubs inviting me to come and do a reading – and recently I was asked to interview a visiting writer at my local library. All great, all very welcome breaks from the laptop-tapping that usually constitutes my day’s work.
And while I enjoy any interaction with the outside world, and I welcome the opportunities afforded by the adult events to spread the word about my novels, I look forward in particular to the school visits. When I gave up primary school teaching in 2008 in favour of fulltime writing, the only things I really missed about that job were the company of my little charges and the wonderful buzz of a classroom. I don’t have children of my own, and my nephews and niece are all pretty much grown by this (yes, I am that old) so I went from daily interaction with small people to virtually none at all. Not good.
Consequently, within weeks of giving up the day job I offered my services as a storyteller in my local library – OK, I sort of forced them to let me in – and I began a monthly Saturday morning session there for 3 to 6 year olds, which is still the highlight of my calendar – and when a fellow writer told me a few months later about the Writers in Schools scheme, I immediately applied to go on the database, and was thrilled to be accepted.
As an ex-teacher I have a distinct advantage over writers who’ve never taught. Some confess to being terrified at the prospect of speaking to a class of twelve year olds: for me it’s a thing to be anticipated with glee. I love chatting with them for an hour or so, asking them about their favourite authors, telling them about my life as a writer, reading a bit from one of my children’s books and responding to their questions (one of which is guaranteed to be ‘Are you rich?’ ‘Do I look rich?’ is generally my response, which seems to give them their answer.)
Mind you, much as I enjoy their company, I also love returning them to their class teacher at the end of the allotted time, and leaving the school without a bundle of copies to correct, or a lesson plan to prepare, or having to patrol a yard filled with running, shrieking little people – those bits I didn’t miss in the least when I stopped teaching.
I’ve visited secondary schools too, although my children’s books are both aimed at ten to twelve year olds. I must admit I was more than a little apprehensive the first time I was asked to come and talk to teenagers. I’d had little dealings with them in the past, and didn’t know what to expect. I called to mind the clusters of slouching youths I might pass on my way into town, or the groups of startlingly well-made-up young girls who might sweep past me in minis and heels – at their age I’d hardly have known what to do with a tube of lipstick, let alone eye liner or mascara; and to this day I’m shaky on anything approaching a high heel. I wondered if I’d be challenged, or mocked – or worse, if they’d chew their hair as they chatted to one another and ignored me.
I needn’t have worried. Teenagers, I’ve discovered, are simply twelve year olds with a bit more mileage. Once I cottoned on to that, and pitched my talk accordingly, we didn’t have a problem. I’ve discovered that visitors to any classroom, regardless of age group, are at an immediate advantage: they’re the fresh face, welcomed by students and teacher alike, offering a bit of a change for the former and a bit of a break for the latter.
So I really have the best of both worlds. Days of writing – nothing better when inspiration and words are flowing – interspersed every now and again with an opportunity to give my literary brain a break and mix with the outside world. And on the first Saturday of every month I pack up my storytelling kit and head for the library down the road with a big fat smile on my face.
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To celebrate the release of the PB of #TheReunion by @roisinmeaney I have a copy for you to #win! Just follow and RT to enter! pic.twitter.com/p3YaT39Lpd— Amanda 📚✍🏻 (@Gobookyourselfx) April 4, 2017