Last year Stephanie Butland’s debut novel ‘Surrounded by Water’ was published in hardback by Transworld. It is now out in paperback and has been renamed ‘Letters To My Husband’.
Dear Mike, I can’t believe that it’s true. You wouldn’t do this to me. You promised.
Elizabeth knows that her husband is kind and good and that he loves her unconditionally. She knows she hasn’t been herself lately but that, even so, they are happy.
But Elizabeth’s world is turned upside down when Mike dies in a tragic drowning accident. Suddenly everything Elizabeth knows about her husband is thrown into doubt. Why would he sacrifice his own life, knowing he’d never see his wife again? And what exactly was he doing at the lake that night?
Elizabeth knows that writing to Mike won’t bring him back, but she needs to talk to him now more than ever . . .
How much can you ever know about the people you love?
As part of this blog tour I am posting an extract from the opening to the book; a letter from Elizabeth to her husband, Mike.
This is stupid. It’s 4am and I’m sitting downstairs
in the dark, writing a letter to you by torchlight. I don’t
want to put the light on. I don’t know why not. I
don’t know anything. I don’t know what day it is.
I don’t know where you are but I know you’re somewhere.
You can’t just be nowhere. Not all of that you.
You can’t have just gone.
Blake was in tears and in uniform when he came
to the door, and all I could think of was that you were
hurt, that something had happened to you, that you’d
got in the way of some idiot drunk driver or waded into
an argument that had got nasty. I remember thinking,
sod’s law that you’ve got hurt walking the dog when it’s
your job that’s supposed to be dangerous. I was already
thinking about how we would all tease you, for getting
into trouble walking a West Highland terrier. I didn’t
want to look at Blake’s face. It wasn’t a face that looked
as though it was planning to do any teasing, so I didn’t
look. I couldn’t.
I took my coat from the hook and I started to put
it on over my PJs because I assumed he was going to
take me to the hospital to see you. And then I started to
think about it all more seriously. How sad it would be
if it was something that meant you couldn’t do your job
any more – if you were going to be in a wheelchair, if
you had lost your sight – and of how we would get
through it, whatever it was, because – well, because
what else would we do? It would be you and me, our
world inside the big world, a yolk in an egg. It would
work. We would make it. It wouldn’t have been the first
time things didn’t go according to plan. I was so ready
to be strong.
But my fingers struggled with the zip, and I
couldn’t see properly, and Blake still wasn’t saying anything,
even though I was asking, asking, what’s
happened to him, where is he, was it a car crash, did
someone hit him, why can’t he ever learn that off duty
means off duty. He was just crying, and then he put his
hands over my hands and took them away from my
coat, and he said my name, twice, once gently, and then
again firmly so I had to look into his face, and then I
Blake caught me as I fell. The next thing I knew,
I was on the sofa and he was trying to make me drink
bloody tea. I think I screamed. I might have thrown the
cup – there’s a mark on the wall, anyway – and I was
shaking, shaking, and he was sitting next to me and
talking, but I couldn’t hear a thing. Nothing. The
newspaper was on the floor, we’d been halfway through
the crossword when you took Pepper out. And suddenly
I got the one that we were really stuck on. 3 across, Geg
(9,3). Scrambled egg. Of course. How often have we
said how, once you get it, it’s impossible to see how you
ever couldn’t? And I opened my mouth to tell you. And
you weren’t there. And just for a split second I saw the
world in which you’d never be there again. I think I
pulled out some of my hair.
I don’t know why I wasn’t worried when you were
gone so long. I suppose I assumed you’d found some old
lady to help across the road. Maybe I didn’t think about
it at all. Already I look back at that me, happy and
unaware, and barely recognize her. Another world. A
Andy came – I suppose Blake had called him –
and he took my hand, and he cried but I didn’t. I just
felt sick at the thought of how many hands would touch
mine in my life, but never yours again. I felt as though
I was underwater too, with you, although of course I
knew they’d got you out. Pepper jumped up on to my
lap, and he was still a bit damp – Blake said it was
him, standing barking on the bank, then swimming
round in circles, who drew attention to where you were
– and his wet fur felt like the only real thing in this
whole horrible world.
And I’ve been blundering around in the blackest
blackness ever since. It hasn’t even been two days and
already this terrible place feels as though it will be my
home for ever. I could never have imagined how dark,
flat, endless this place would be. Maybe that’s why I’ve
stopped putting the lights on: they’re pointless. They
don’t stop the dark.
Oh, God, Mike. I can’t bear it here, but at the
same time I can’t be anywhere else. I can’t believe that
it’s true. You wouldn’t do this to me. You wouldn’t. You
promised. You’re the person who’s supposed to protect
me, so you can’t be the cause of this.
And anyway, there is so much of you. You can’t be
nowhere. Where are you?
I am running a competition in which 3 very lucky people will win a copy of ‘Letters To My Husband’. To enter just leave a comment telling me why you want to read this book.
Terms and Conditions
This competition is open to UK residents only.
The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 27th April 2015.
The winners will be notified within 7 days of the closing date and their details will be passed on to the publisher who will send the prizes out.
Good luck! 🙂