Everyone has parts of their life they’d like to change - but if your whole life had become a disappointment, how far would you go to find happiness?
Esther feels stifled by her religious, judgmental family. Cheryl is unfulfilled by motherhood and trapped by her poverty. Carla is beautiful and successful, but haunted by the ghosts of her past.
For these women to find peace, someone might need to die.
Suspending Reality is a fast moving, intricate novel of character and suspense.
In some places, autumn is a month that is experienced with the fullness of the senses. The first of a year’s goose-bumps and shivers arrive with the dawn of cooler weather. The red and gold and yellow and brown of dying leaves blanket the earth. Dusty, smoky wood fires burn in fireplaces that have been unused for months, and the smell hangs heavy over towns and cities.
There are even sounds unique to the season — those first light coughs of children adjusting to cooler weather, and the brisk brushing of men sweeping clear their all-important driveways. The tastes are rich — pumpkin soup with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of paprika, or a creamy warm milk before bed.
Cheryl parked her car and slid out awkwardly. She looked up to another clouded sky that threatened rain that would never come, and sniffed the air. It smelt just like it always did — dusty. She thought about her childhood and how autumn had once descended upon life and left its mark, and was suddenly very homesick for the changing of seasons.
Parkes had no visible autumn. The eucalypts did not lose their leaves, so there was nothing but the usual dust to sweep from the driveway and where Cheryl lived, no one even did that. She did not know a single soul who made pumpkin soup or heated milk, unless of course there was a baby involved. It wasn’t yet cool enough for children to cough, or for anyone to light a fire unless they wanted to start a bushfire. Autumn in Parkes felt a whole lot like summer in Parkes if someone took the sting out of the sun.
Cheryl pushed the door to the health centre open with her shoulder and stepped inside. In one hand, she held a packet of Tim Tams, in the other, a half-eaten chocolate bar. The dusty overhead fan swirled musty air around the room. Cheryl threw the Tim Tams down onto the low coffee table and stuffed the rest of her chocolate bar into her mouth to free up her hands to work open the stiff windows.
Any minute now, three other Young Mothers would waddle into the room and they'd spend half an hour complaining about how bad their lives were. A well-dressed social worker would teach them about good parenting. The Tim Tams would be eaten — sooner, rather than later — and then they'd all go home.
Cheryl made herself a cup of no-name coffee at the lukewarm urn and lowered herself into a slouch in a wide vinyl chair. The government-issue furniture in the health centre, much like every other object she encountered on a day-to-day basis, was old and worn. The lino tiles on the floor were peeling and chipped, and the counter where the urn rested had been covered in grey contact which long-had since bubbled and cracked.
She settled back against the dull green vinyl and sipped her coffee, washing the last of the chocolate from her mouth. Cheryl was generally bored and depressed, but was especially unsettled today. The sheer shock of having tipped the scales that morning at almost one hundred and fifty kilograms had knocked her passive melancholy into an active slump. Somehow, she was getting fatter, and there didn't seem to be a single thing she could do about it. Sadder still was the reality that her gargantuan size was almost the least of her problems.
I am completely, hopelessly trapped.
She was stuck in a life that was going nowhere. It was a life that she couldn’t remember deciding to live.
When the meeting finished and the time came to leave, Cheryl would struggle to get out of her chair because it was so low and she was so large. She dreaded that moment each week, it brutally reminded her that what she really needed was some way to pry herself out of the life into which she had slid. The problem was, the technique required was a complete mystery and she was beginning to suspect she’d die before she mastered it.
“Cheryl! You forgot your frozen stuff again. Lucky I saw the ice cream on the seat when I walked past. Sometimes I think you’d be lost without me.”
“I know I would. Thanks, Lisa,” Cheryl murmured. Lisa tossed Cheryl’s bag of perishables into the fridge and opened her can of Diet Coke, before turning back towards her friend and peering down at her pointedly.
“And what’s with the lemon face? Jessica giving you problems again?”
Cheryl shook her head and offered a smile.
“I just didn’t sleep well last night.”
Lisa sat opposite Cheryl and drank most of the can of Coke in one mouthful. She propped her feet up onto the table beside the biscuits and motioned towards Cheryl with the can.
“You need a man, Cheryl.”
Cheryl instantly reached for the Tim Tams. She opened the packet awkwardly with her thick fingers, then shook two out onto her palm and tossed the packet back onto the table.
“So you keep telling me, but you don’t seem so happy with Mick.”
Lisa was already rocking a little, which she often did after more than a few minutes without her Winfield Golds. She never, ever ate in public — and seemed to live off a diet of cigarettes and soft drink. Lisa was a proud size 6, and had slightly stiff but perfectly peroxided blonde hair. Excessive smoking and her atrocious diet had damaged her skin and Lisa looked much older than 35, but someone had forgotten to mention this to Lisa and she carried herself like a 19 year old supermodel.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelly Rimmer is an Australian author based in Orange, New South Wales. Her debut novel, Suspending Reality, was published in March 2012. In writing Suspending Reality, Kelly says she wanted to capture a moment most women experience at some point in their lives, wondering what it would be like to just get in a car and drive away to become someone else. How exactly would someone go about that, and what would the consequences be?
Kelly fits her passion for writing around her other full time jobs, which include raising two adorable children and trying to keep the impossible polished tiles in her living areas reasonably clean. Her next novel, Me and My Barefoot Lover, will be released in June 2012.
Visit Kelly at http://www.facebook.com/Kellymrimmer
I was able to get a copy of Suspending Reality for review, and I'd like to share that review with you now:
Rating: 4 (FOUR) Lightning Bolts.
The story revolves around three central characters, women who seem to be at a crossroads in life, thinking about the past and how to let go of the ghosts that still haunt them. The reader gets a glimpse in each character's life, as the story weaves through them. Esther, Cheryl, and Carla are all intriguing. Their lives hang in a limbo, but the story takes us into places we never expect. The suspense, the fast pacing, and the twists and turns make for an enjoyable, surprising read. There were some things that I never expected. Kelly Rimmer's characters jump off of the pages, can easily be related to by people. That's one of the great things about a book- when a reader can emotionally connect with a character. If you're a fan of contemporary women's fiction, weaved with some suspense and romance, then check out Suspending Reality.
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