Harriet Stone by Angela Wooldridge.
Don’t panic – you didn’t miss anything!
Harriet is currently gathering dust on my shelf. I hope to return to her one of these days but I needed to go off and write about other things and different people.
Harriet’s is my first novel and I recognised that there’s a lot of ‘first novel’ all over the manuscript. I need some distance before I go back and make some fundamental changes. But there’s a lot of history to Harriet and she wouldn’t be happy if I left her on the shelf forever. Writing about her here gives her a bit of exposure and reminds me of all the things I love about her.
Harriet has layers. She’s socially awkward and covers that up by seeming unruffled on the outside. She doesn’t quite ‘fit’ anywhere, although she’s brought some of that on herself. She keeps distant because it’s easier that way; life, emotions and relationships are messy. It’s far safer to steer clear.
Why is she like this? Upbringing. Her parents were from completely different worlds. Her mum came from a respectable middle class family, while her dad… Well, he was a thief and a gambler. And a charmer. Her mum was thrust into a world of families who looked after each other as the menfolk were often detained by her majesty for stretches of time. But she was an outsider and she held herself apart. That inability to fit destroyed their relationship.
Harriet grew up in that. A part of that life, and apart from it. When her parent’s marriage collapsed she had to take sides. She stuck with her mum, but that isolated her too.
When we meet her, Harriet has moved back to her hometown. She lives alone, but beneath the isolation there’s a part of her that’s like her father. She gambles. She still needs human contact and relieves it with occasional one night stands. Thus she addresses her needs, but keeps them neatly partitioned.
But when she discovers that her flat is haunted by a murder victim, she needs the contacts from her childhood to help solve the puzzle. And her nice, tidy life starts to unravel.