We Are All Stars
Do not miss me, because I will always be with you…I am the air, the moon, the stars. For we are all made of stars, my beloved… Wherever you look, I will be there.
Stella Carey exists in a world of night. Married to a soldier who has returned from Afghanistan injured in body and mind, she leaves the house every evening as Vincent locks himself away, along with the secrets he brought home from the war.
During her nursing shifts, Stella writes letters for her patients to their loved ones – some full of humour, love and practical advice, others steeped in regret or pain – and promises to post these messages after their deaths.
Until one night Stella writes the letter that could give her patient one last chance at redemption, if she delivers it in time…
We Are all Made of Stars is an uplifting and heartfelt novel about life, loss and what happens in between from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Memory Book.
‘Oh, what a gorgeous book this is – it gripped me and wouldn’t let me go. So engaging, so beautifully written – I loved every single thing about it.’
‘We Are All Made of Stars is simply wonderful. Profoundly moving and ultimately hopeful, this story – like its deftly drawn characters – refuses to let you forget it.’
‘A beautiful story of aching sadness and boundless joy, sparkling with love, humour and humanity. It somehow manages to deliver tears, laughter, inspiration and wonder in one compelling, breathless tale that will make you laugh, cry and fight for what you love with everything you have. Stunning. ’
‘It’s utterly wonderful, and my heart is overflowing on finishing it. It’s tender, funny, heart-breaking and beautiful.’
‘Rowan’s latest novel has true star quality: it’ll make you think, make you cry, make you turn the pages, and, finally, make you glad to be alive. The Memory Book is one of my favourite books – but We Are All Made of Stars is even better. Joyful and moving.’
The Memory Book
What would happen if your memory of these began to fade?
Is it possible to rebuild your life? Raise a family? Fall in love again?
When Claire starts to write her Memory Book, she already knows that this scrapbook of mementoes will soon be all her daughters and husband have of her. But how can she hold on to the past when her future is slipping through her fingers…?
Original, heartwarming and uplifting, The Memory Book is perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.
– Lisa Jewell
‘I can’ tell you how much I loved this book. It did make me cry, but it also made me laugh. Like Me Before You by Jo Jo Moyes, I couldn’t put it down. A tender testament to maternal love.’
– Katie Ford
‘Written with great tenderness, The Memory Book manage to be heartbreakingly sad et uplifting too. You’ll hold your loved ones that little bit closer after reading this novel. I absolutely loved it!’
– Lucy Diamond
‘ The Memory Book is warm, sad, and life-affirming, with an unforgettable heroine who will make you laugh and cry. It’s a tender book about treasuring the past and living fully in the present; you’ll finish it and immediately go give your loved ones a hug’
– Julie Cohen
Lessons in Laughing Out Loud
Have you ever wondered what might have been…?
Willow and Holly are identical twins. They are everything to each other. Holly calls Willow her rock, her soulmate, her other half. And Willow feels the same about Holly. They are alike in every respect but one – Willow is afraid on the inside. And all because of a secret – one that binds the sisters closely together and yet has meant their lives have taken two very different paths.
Willow often feels there are large parts of her missing, qualities she only knows she’s lacking because she sees them in her sister. For a very long time Willow has felt separated from Holly by one terrible moment in time – a moment that meant Willow’s life was never the same again. And when the past catches up with her, Willow realises its finally time for her to face her fears, and – with Holly’s help – learn to laugh out loud once more.
Lessons in Laughing Out Loud
There are moments in every person’s life when something as simple as a wrong turn, an impulsive decision, or a door softly drawing to a close can change everything forever. Moments, that Willow Briars knew, better than anyone, were impossible to turn back from, moments that if you weren’t very careful could shape the rest of your life.
Which was why she was trying rather hard not to murder Lucy Palmer.
Many words and phrases that have frequently been used to describe thirty-nine year old Willow, but not until this very moment would anybody have ever called her murderous.
Efficient and capable, was how Willow was often described by her boss Victoria Kincade, chief executive officer of Victoria Kincade Talent Ltd. Invaluable, resourceful and a genuine treasure.
Good old Will, was how many of her colleagues referred to her. Fun, funny, down to earth Willow Briars, always up for a good night out, says it how it is Will. And Willow knew perfectly well that if any of them were asked to describe her physically, they would dwell on her lovely skin, beautiful blue eyes, shiny hair and great smile and fantastic taste in beautiful shoes that made up for her rather limited choice in fashion.
Her identical twin sister Holly who was exactly twenty-six minutes younger than her, called her her rock, her darling, her soul mate, her other half and Willow could use all of those words to describe Holly too. Her four-year-old twin nieces, Jess and Jem, called her cuddly Aunty Pillow. Sweet Aunty Will and nicest of all, best Aunty in the world Aunty Will, which was a compliment with limited range as Willow was also their only Aunt, but still she loved it.
Depending on her mood her mother called her either the London twin or the disappointing one.
Her ex husband had started off calling her darling, but after two years of marriage ended describing her as a waste of space. And once for a very brief time his daughter, Chloe, had called not minded one little bit if people thought Willow was her mum.
Willow Briars was, is and had been many things to many people but so far never violent. Not until now, until Lucy Palmer, Graduate trainee and the daughter of a family friend of Victoria had joined the agency six weeks ago and Victoria gave her the desk opposite Will and instructed her to look after the barely twenty-one year old ingénue. From that moment on, to Willow’s great surprise she discovered she would most certainly be capable of bopping another human being over the head with a brick and then feeding them into a wood chipper.
The Happy Home For Broken Hearts
Ellie Woods spends her days immersed in the escapist pages of the romantic novels she lovingly edits. But her reality is somewhat less rose-tinted. Once upon a time, Ellie had her ´happily ever after´ moment when she married her beloved Nick, but fifteen years later her husband´s tragic death leaves her alone with their soon-to-become-a-teenager son, faced with a mountain of debt, and on the verge of losing the family home.
On the brink of bankruptcy, Ellie finally succumbs to her sister´s well-meant bullying and decides to rent out some rooms. And all too soon the indomitable Allegra with her love for all things lavender, Sabine on secondment from Berlin and estranged from her two-timing husband, and unreconstructed lads´ mag aficionado Matt enter her ordered but fragile existence – each with their own messy life in tow. And Ellie finds herself forced to step out of the pages of the romantic novels she hides behind, and learn to live – and love – again.
Maybe a new chapter is about to begin for them all.
The Happy Home For Broken Hearts
There were three mismatched chairs at the kitchen table. When they had moved into the house Nick has taken them to a local junk shop where he had spotted a large ancient and battered pine tbale that he thought would be perfect for the new kitchen. Ellen had complained that it didn´t have matching chairs, and Nick had laughedm waving his arm around him at the collection of disowned chairs of all shapes and sizes.
´O know,´ he´d said winking at an enchanted Charlie. ´Let´s choose a different chair each. One that will suit us and be out chiar whenever we sit at the table.´
Ellen had chosen a chairthat she thought was most in keeping with the table, a humble pine affair with a simple back and straight legs. Nick had managed to find a dark wood carver that looked like it had once belonged in much grander surroundings and had ideas far about its station, with its turned arms and strudy squat bowed legs. Charlie, much younger, still a baby really, had found a brightly painted chair that must have once belonged to an amateur artisit. Every leg was painted a different primary colour and the backrest was an acidic green decorated with a painted eye. Ever since that day the three of them had always sat in their special chairs, until Nick dies and then his remained stubbornly vacant, even Hannah knew better than to sit in it. Today Sabine was sitting in Charlie´s chair and he took up residence in his mother´s. Ellen leaned against the kitchen counter and watched, fretting about how to break the news to her lodgers that one of her kitchen chairs was off limits.
The Accidental Family
Six months ago, city girl Sophie Mills gave up everything to move to Cornwall. All to be with the man she thinks she loves, and his two daughters who she knows she loves.
But adjusting to life as a semi-permanent mother in the countryside isn´t quite as easy as Sophie imagined it would be. Designer shoes aren´t nearly so readily available – not that she ever has any occasion to wear them – and her best pair of vintage Manolo´s have already found their way into the girls´ dressing-up box. Sometimes Sophie doesn´t recognise herself; which most of the time makes her happy but every now and then scares her to death.
The hardest thing of all is making that final commitment to actually move in with Louis and the girls – she´s been the longest paying guest of the Avalon B&B, St Ives in the history of the establishment. And as she tries to adapt to country life, her newly adopted family and discovering more about Louis´s past, she begins to wonder if she´s got what it takes to make it all work .
The Accidental Family
‘Hello Carrie.’ Sophie spoke into the wind, which snatched her words away with urgent greedy gusts. She felt her stomach contract as realised how nervous she was. ‘I’m going to marry Louis. I’m going to marry your husband. There – I’ve said it, and no matter how many times I say it out loud, it still sounds like a reader’s true story in a gossip magazine. But there it is: its happening….it really is happening. You know, ever since I met Bella and Izzy and Louis, I’ve wondered what you’d think, how you’d feel about it if you were here. I tried to love your girls because I loved you, and that was a lot easier than I thought. And I tried not to love Louis because I loved you, and I’m sorry Carrie….but that was impossible.’
Sophie pushed her windswept hair off of her face and took a deep breath. ‘The hardest thing is that I know I would never have met them if you hadn’t died. I would probably had gone on having my secretary send them cards and gifts every birthday and Christmas. Louis might have stayed in Peru, and how knows if I would have seen you again. It breaks my heart that I had to lose you to find them….but, Carrie, you know I would fight for your daughters, that’s why you made me their guardian, and you knew that after quite a lot of stupidity and a serious number of epiphanies that I would love them as much as I do. And I’ll never let then down, I promise you.’
The Accidental Mother
Her clothes are designer. Her kids came ready-made …
Sophie Mills has worked her Manolo Blahniks off to reach the near-top of her profession. And she´s very happy with her priorities in life – her job, her neurotic cat Artemis and her passion for shoes. After all, relationships only get in the way. And as for children? She hasn´t even begun to think about them yet. Until one day an unexpected visitor brings news of a strange inheritance and Sophie is suddenly, out of the blue, in sole charge of two children under the age of six. But motherhood can´t be all that hard, can it?
Within twenty-four hours, her make-up is smeared all over the bathroom, Artemis has taken up residence on top of her wardrobe, and Sophie is in despair. And all her unconventional mother can suggest is Dr Roberts´ Complete Dog Training and Care Manual.
Determined to rise to the challenge, Sophie soon realises that she´ll need more than a business plan to cope with all this.
The Accidental Mother
‘Are you going to be OK?’ Sophie asked her again.
‘I said I was, didn’t I?’ Bella told her.
It was true, Bella had said that at just after three in the early hours of the morning. About half an hour earlier than that she had padded into the living room and kneeling by the side of the sofa had stared at Sophie until finally her sluggish and underused sixth sense had kicked in and she opened her eyes.
‘Oh good,’ Bella had said. ‘You’re awake.’
It turned out, probably inevitably Sophie concluded, that she was not going to have to break the news of Louis imminent arrival, not to Bella at least because Bella already knew. She had ‘overheard’ Sophie talking about him to her mum last night and had heard her saying that he would be back in the morning. Bella had tried to go to sleep and pretend she didn’t know about Louis, like she had to at Christmas when she pretended she didn’t know that it was Grandma who put the presents at the bottom of their beds and not Father Christmas, because obviously it wasn’t Father Christmas as no-one had told him where they had moved to and as she knew for a fact that Grandma didn’t post their letters to him as she had found them in her knitting basket.
‘But then.’ Bella had told Sophie gravely. ‘I realised that I had only pretended about Christmas so that Izzy wouldn’t find out and get upset but as Izzy is going to meet HIM in the morning anyway I thought it was better to get up and come and see if you were awake than to worry about it all by myself.’
Sophie didn’t know whether to be touched of terrified but she had somehow made room for Bella, who clambered over her and tucked her feet under Sophie’s duvet.
Another Mother’s Life
How do you know if your life has taken a wrong turn?
Alison James thinks she might be living the wrong life. She loves her husband Marc and their three children but somehow, in the process of building a perfect life for her family, she seems to have lost herself. And sometimes she worries that she´s being punished for how it all started – for the day she ran away with her best friend´s boyfriend.
Catherine Ashley knows she´s living the wrong life. She adores her two daughters, but she´d always thought that at thirty-one she´d be more than a near-divorcee with a dead-end job. In those dark middle-of-the-night moments that come all too often these days, her mind still flicks back to the love of her life: Marc James. And she still wonders whether Alison stole her life as well as her boyfriend.
Alison and Catherine have been living separate lives, a hundred miles apart, for fifteen years – since Alison and Marc ran away together. But now Alison´s moving back to Farmington, the town in which they both grew up. And they´re about to find out just how different both their lives could still be.
Another Mother’s Life
‘This is ridiculous,’ Catherine said as Kirsty, one palm firmly securing her forehead, plucked her eyebrows.
‘Only you would say that,’ Kirsty said through gritted teeth as she jerked another hair out of Catherine’s tender hair. ‘Only you would think that having eyebrows that frame your eyes instead of hanging over them is a good plan.’
‘I don’t think anything about eyebrows, eyebrows are not important to me,’ Catherine said, beginning to regret agreeing to go out with Kirsty at all.
Kirsty paused for a minute, the tweezers hovering menacingly in front of Catherine’s face.
‘Tell me you shave your legs,’ she pleaded. Cathering looked at her sensible shoes and said nothing.
‘Good God, Catherine! What’s wrong with you?’ Kirsty exclaimed.
‘What’s right with me, you mean,’ Catherine retorted, ‘I don’t feel the need to denude myself in order to be attractive to men, and besides, what’s the point of shaving my legs? No one ever sees them.’
Kirsty attacked Catherine’s brow with renewed vigour.
‘The point of shaving your legs is the same as always wearing sexy underwear even when you’re not on a date. It makes you feel both womanly and beautiful, and then your sexiness exudes from within.’ Kirsty yanked hard on a particularly stubborn hair, making Catherine wince. ‘No wonder you are so…’ Kirsty struggled to find a suitable adjective and failed.
Woman Walks Into A Bar
A Friday night out with the girls changes Sam´s life forever
28-year-old single mother Sam spends her days working in the local supermarket and her Friday nights out with her friends, Joy and Marie, letting her hair down at the White Horse. Life has never been easy for Sam, but she’s always hoped that one day she’ll meet The One.
After a series of terrible dates with men she’s met through an internet dating agency she’s starting to lose heart – until her friends tell her they’ve set her up on a blind date. Sam’s horrified but finally she agrees to go – after all you never know when you might meet the man of your dreams …
Growing Up Twice
Did you like Rebecca Wells’s Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood? Melissa Bank’s The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing? Anna Maxted’s Running in Heels? Then you’ll love Growing Up Twice
Jenny, Rosie and Selin have been best friends since school. Their teenage years were spent drinking too much wine in the park, dressing up for Friday night, and making the wrong choices with the wrong men because tomorrow seemed a very long way off.
Eleven riotous years later, Jenny realises something. After more than a decade of waiting for her real life to begin, nothing has really changed. Here she is, still hung-over in the park, still dressed up in Friday night clothes and about to make her most inappropriate choice of man yet .
But Jenny’s not the only one waiting for real life to begin. And when tragedy turns their world upside down, all three friends are forced to realise that the real growing up is still to come…
Growing Up Twice
EVER BEEN CRAZY IN LOVE …?
For five years, Maggie has known what her life is all about: her satisfying job in a small catering company, her boyfriend (and boss) Christian, and the future they´re building together. Christian is the man Maggie´s destined to be with forever, she fell in love with him the moment they met, their love runs River Deep, Mountain High – until Christian comes home one night and says the terrible words ‘it’s over’.
Numb, shocked and disbelieving, Maggie moves home to her parents’ pub. Jobless and single, living in a bedroom still papered with A-ha and Take That posters, she’s back to square one. The life she spent five years building is over. Or is it? Convinced she knows Christian better than he knows himself, Maggie sets out to win him back. But when she enlists the help of Pete, temporarily abandoned by his fiance, she starts to wonder just how broken her heart really is…
‘Are you insane?’ Sarah blinked at her, stunned. ‘What on earth do you think seeing her is going to achieve? It will just make you look like a stalker and drive Christian even further away, if it’s possible to get further away than another woman’s bed!’
Maggie shook her head, desperate to make Sarah see.
‘No, listen. It’s not stalking. I don’t mean actually talk to her. I mean just go to the Fresh Talent 2 branch and get a look at her.’ Maggie thought it sounded perfectly reasonable.
‘That is stalking!’ Sarah exclaimed just as the conversation in the salon lulled momentarily. ‘That is stalking,’ she repeated, lowering her voice a little. ‘And I am having nothing to do with it! In any case, its my one day with Becca and Sam and I promised to take them to the flicks. Becca even wants to go. Do you know what a rare event that is in our household?’
‘We could all go,’ Becca joined them at the counter, her face suddenly bright and alert. Sarah looked from girl to woman to girl and back again, giving Maggie her best I’ll never forgive you for this stare.
‘I’m not taking my children stalking. The End. OK?’
‘Becca tossed her hair and tutted loudly. ‘Oh go on mum! Aunty Mags really needs us and we’d be good cover. They’d never expect you to be stalking with a couple of kids in tow!’
The Baby Group
All good things come in the little packages…
Meet The Baby Group: Natalie ran her own design company until baby Freddie unexpectedly came along. Now the capable person she once was is trapped inside a crazy woman’s body, longing for just one decent night´s sleep and words of more than one syllable. Meg is onto her fourth child but still feels she has to take notes. Meg’s sister-in-law Frances organises her little boy like he’s a private in the army, but underneath her prickly facade she longs for the kind of friendships others seem to find so easy. Former career girl Jess sees danger lurking in every corner, doubting she’ll ever be a good mother. Stay-at-home house-husband Steve is just glad to have the opportunity to spend time with his daughter. And sixteen-year-old Tiffany is the youngest – yet possibly the wisest – of them all.
Six very different parents. Six very different lives. But when Natalie´s dodgy wiring leads to a series of chance encounters they rapidly discover – through Baby Music, Baby Aerobics, coffee and more importantly cake – that there’s safety in numbers. And their own unofficial baby group is formed.
The Baby Group
You could phone your mum, Alice suggested tentatively, and only because she was safely on the other end of a phone line and she knew that Natalie couldn’t throw something at her.
‘I am not going to phone my mum, ‘ Natalie told her sharply, pressing the palm of her hand against her forehead as she spoke. ‘I would rather pull out my own finger nails with my teeth than contact my mother and tell that only have I just had a baby when she didn’t even know that I was pregnant, but I am also unmarried and not in any kind of relationship. I am definitely not asking her for any help. She’d be so happy she’d probably drop dead on the spot.’ Natalie paused for a moment. ‘Actually, perhaps I will call.’
‘Natalie!’ Alice didn’t like it when Natalie made jokes about wishing her mother’s demise, which was principally why Natalie made them. She was very fond of her friend and business partner, but the two women could not have been more different. They were like chalk and cheese or perhaps more appropriately, considering their business, like soft chiffon camiknickers and a red lacy thong with diamante detail. Natalie was well aware that she was the thong, often showy, trying too hard to be sexy and sometimes quite uncomfortable to be around. At least that was what she had been like before Jack.’
After Ever After
Sometimes ‘happily ever after’ is just the beginning…
Kitty Simpson is a firm believer in fairy tales. And when Fergus Kelly kisses her under a shooting star (or perhaps a banking airplane), she simply knows that he must be The One.
But eighteen months, a storybook wedding and an adorable but accidental baby later, Kitty’s life isn’t the perfect idyll she thought it would be. She has her Prince Charming, her lady-of-leisure lifestyle and her longed-for escape from city life, but Fergus spends most of his time commuting, looking after Ella is surprisingly exhausting, and a quiet life in the country has her pining for London.
Suddenly confident, self-assured Kitty isn’t sure who she is any more. Cracks are appearing in her fairy tale. And when they’re compounded by her unexpected attraction to another man, happily ever after seems a long way off…