“Alice wakes alone and naked in a loft bedroom somewhere in Camden. She can see a tree branch through the unadorned skylight. It’s windy and the branch is swaying slightly, threatening to tap against the glass. The sound of traffic outside reminds her she is somewhere close to the High Street but she can’t remember where exactly. Her head feels fuzzy, her mouth dry. She attempts to sit up, shivering a little and pulling the duvet around herself. There is a glass of water on the table next to the bed. Alice reaches for it and takes a few sips, unsure as to how long the water has been there and if it was meant for her.
She allows herself a proper look around the room. It had been too dark last night to take everything in. The room is not what she expected, but then she isn’t sure what she expected. Something more luxurious? Perhaps something at least a little more grown-up. This room is no different to the kinds of rooms Alice and her student friends rent: small, shabby, barely furnished. It’s dim but she can make out an easel in one corner, a desk, a wardrobe, a small basin under the skylight. A well-used toothbrush stands in a dirty glass. The desk is littered with paint palettes, tubes of oil and sticks of charcoal. The wardrobe is painted a strange shade of green. For some reason, Alice thinks of Kandinsky’s comment about green being the most anaesthetising colour. A brown tweed jacket has been thrown over the back of an old wooden chair. To the left of the chair is an overflowing laundry basket and at the end of the bed, a portable television set sits on a stand.
Alice replaces the water glass then slides back down under the covers. She places a hand on her abdomen. She feels nauseous. She wishes it could still be yesterday afternoon.
She hears a creaking noise, footsteps on the ladder. She sees the top of his head first, those dark curls already streaked with silver.”
Sensitive and sharply observant seventeen year-old Nell moves to Brighton in search of independence. There she meets the charming, older Scott. The freedom Nell sought is quickly curtailed as her life spirals into a suffocating existence lived under the shadow of cohesive control and Scott’s violent temper. Memories of Nell’s childhood constantly resurface, forcing her to confront her relationship with her mother, Alice, a prominent portrait artist, to remember the betrayals and cruelties of teenage girls and the boy she’d rather forget.
Returning home, Nell must lay past ghosts to rest and begin again. But she has been followed and someone has a different idea.
The tiny Gestures of Small flowers will be published July 2021.