Tuesday, April 30, 2013


By Vera Berry Burrows
Mainstream, 301 pages
Cover art by Trisha FitzGerald
Jane O'Connell did not envisage that her early retirement would completely disrupt her life. With too much time on her hands, she finds it difficult to adjust to her new existence. In her obstinate selfishness, she alienates herself from her family and friends. Running away from all things familiar appears to be her only option, but is it? Will the connections she makes really solve the problems she encounters in her life after work?
Jane didn't go to the Dog and Partridge for several days. Somehow she felt she wasn't quite ready to face Freddy after their little fling. She had no idea how he'd react when they came face to face again. She worked on Finding Ben and realised her reckless behaviour had fuelled her creative fire. I love this, she thought. It's the catharsis I knew I needed and Ben's character is surely developing through me. I'm beginning to love the little guy. When her phone rang, she was startled. "Hello. Jane Peterson."

It was Barbara. "Jane!" she called almost deafeningly. "Where are you? I have been ringing your bell for days. Has the intercom stopped working?"

"I've been busy, Barbara. I turned off the intercom and my mobile because I needed to work undisturbed. Sorry."

Barbara continued unabashed. "I missed you at the D and P. Freddy hasn't been in either. I have no idea what's happened to him. Have you heard from him? You and he were getting along well when we were last together."

Jane took a deep breath in order to compose herself. "I haven't seen him after that night. He walked me home and that was that," she fibbed. No need to let Barbara into our little secret. "He's not my type, Barbara, so I won't be sorry if I don't see him again. How are you anyway? Anything happening at the D and P?"

"I'm fine thanks, and I'm glad you're okay. You might like to go and see the group that's on in the pub at the weekend. The Country Boys. They are supposed to be very good and the lead singer is an Aussie from Broome. You might know him."

Jane laughed. "Barbara, Broome is just about as far away from where I live as you could get. It's at least a four hour flight. Just think about it. In four hours you could fly to Greece or the Canary Islands from here. Would you know anybody who lives in those places, or do you know anybody in John o' Groats, for instance? At least it's on the same land mass."

Barbara laughed with her. "But Australia looks quite small in the atlas!" she said.

"Australia is vast, believe me," Jane informed her. "I might try to see the group, though. A country boy from Broome, hey? Sounds interesting. Will you be there?"

"No, my better half is home now for a few weeks so I won't be around. We have a lot of catching up to do, if you understand my meaning."

Jane gasped audibly for effect. "Whoa there, girl! Too much information," she said light-heartedly. "Give me a call when you feel like a night out. See yer!"

Barbara's call had added to Jane's guilt as regards Freddy. Well, it seems I really scared off the poor guy if he's stopped going to the Dog and Partridge. I feel really bad now. All we did was to fulfil a need in each other, her conscience told her. He doesn't have to go to ground just because we... Try as she might, she could not dismiss the thought that she might have tarnished the memory of his dear wife and she genuinely felt very guilty about that.

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