Elizabeth Enfield is the author of Ivy and Abe, which is published by Michael Joseph on 28 June 2018.
Michael Jospeh have kindly allowed me to share an extract from the book.
Eventually, I allow myself a quick sidelong glance. He definitely reminds me of someone, or perhaps it’s just the hat.
I go back to my shopping, scan it all, pay and pick up the bag, meeting his eye now, smiling briefly.
And that would have been it, except he’s finished and paid too.
‘Excuse me.’ He draws alongside. ‘Yes?’
‘It’s Ivy, isn’t it?’
‘Yes.’ Where do I know him from?
‘Ivy Trent,’ he says, not questioning now.
‘Yes.’ He’s very familiar but from where? Is he a past colleague, someone connected to Lottie and Max’s child – hood? Or one of Richard’s friends? He doesn’t seem to fit any of those categories.
‘This is my grandson, Connor.’ I stall for time, hoping for some further clue. ‘I don’t think you’ve met him.’
‘It must be at least sixty years,’ he says, and then, seeing my confusion, he’s about to introduce himself. ‘It’s –’
I get there first. ‘Abe?’ I ask, recognition slowly flooding through me. ‘Abe? Abe McFadden?’
I experience a sudden rush of emotion.
There he is.My oldest childhood friend. My closest childhood friend. ‘I can’t believe it.’
An insufficient summary of everything I feel. I’d often thought of him over the years, wondered how he was and hoped life had been kind to him. Kinder than it had been when we were growing up.
Time seems to rewind and then jump.
It’s leapt to a place where Abe and I are five years old, standing shyly in the playground on our first day at primary school. I had seen him and wanted him to be my friend. And then he is, and we’re the kind of friends who are in and out of each other’s houses, part of each other’s families, the kind of friends people refer to in one breath, ‘Ivy’n’Abe’.
I look at him again now. He’s aged but the young Abe is still there, shifting on the spot, unsure what to say. His hair is grey but still thick and slightly unruly, the kind of hair that needs a close cut to tame it, the kind of cut he’s too shy to have because it would expose his face with its peculiarly inviting set.
He smiles now, and I see it in the way the wrinkles appear, in grooves that have deepened over the years: an expression that suggests kindness, coupled with gentle humour and a trace of sadness.
Then my mind leaps to when it happened – the tragedy that would herald the end of our friendship.
And I’m brought back to the present by Connor, who is tugging at my coat. ‘Grandma, I want to feed the ducks.’
About the book
Ivy and Abe were inseparable as children until an accident tore them apart. Several decades later, when both are in their seventies, a chance encounter reunites them. But time is not on their side.
What if they’d met in a different time and place?
In another life, Ivy and Abe meet in their forties, when both are married already. Unable to resist the attraction between them, they embark on a passionate affair.
In yet another, they marry young, with a bright future ahead of them – only for a dark shadow to threaten their happiness.
Throughout various incarnations of their lives, they come together and go their separate ways, fall in and out of love, make or break promises.
In every universe, Ivy and Abe are meant to meet. But are they meant to be?
Read more on the Penguin website.
About the author
Elizabeth Enfield worked as a journalist and producer for BBC radio before going freelance. Her short stories have been broadcast on Radio 4 and published in magazines including Woman’s Own and the Sunday Express.