Bluethroat Morning by Jacquie Lofthouse ** Extract**

Today I have a very special exclusive extract from Jacqui Lofthouse's latest novel, Bluethroat Morning. Before we get to the extract, I think you'd like to find out a little more about this book:


Alison Bliss, world famous model and writer, walks into the sea on a 'bluethroat morning'. In death, she becomes an even greater icon than in life. Six years later, husband Harry is still haunted by her suicide. In order to move forward into a new relationship, he must first relive the past.

 Extract



Alison had always been a difficult character to pin down, but the last place one might expect to meet a famous model is before a Renaissance painting. In fact, it had never been easy for the press to couple her fame with her intelligence. Yet before her career began, she’d embarked on a degree in English. She had never finished it. Somehow, the modelling thing had caught her and she hadn’t known how to escape. Only her illness, in the end, forced her to fall back on her first love, a love of words.


When she published her novel, Sweet Susan, Alison had desired, merely, that she be taken seriously, that her story be heard and recognised. But it was not so simple. After her silence, following our marriage, the press had nothing to go on, no story remaining. She had been, in effect, taken from them and they didn’t bear that lightly. Later, the novel made her public again, relaunched her, which caused her enormous distress. That summer, her photograph was everywhere. She was the cover-girl feminist, the palatable voice of dissent. Nobody had expected her novel to be good and the critical acclaim took the gutter press by surprise. Her novel broke rank. True, there was nothing new in her revelations: everybody knew about the drug-taking, the anorexics. But Sweet Susan, with its painful honesty, the intimacy of its language, did more than most novels can ever hope to achieve. It changed attitudes.


Her later suicide made no sense.


The note she left for me, at her rented cottage, explained nothing. I’m so sorry, Harry. Forgive me. I can see no other way. It was discovered by the police, shortly after her body was found. They were tipped off as to her identity by a group of students on holiday. They had witnessed her arrival at the beach several days earlier, just as they were departing, after a night of frivolity. They had recognised her, of course, and had thought her behaviour strange. At the cottage, the police found the note immediately. They must have had a cursory look about the place, but they were satisfied with what they found and left shortly afterwards. There was a delay of several hours before they contacted me. Alison’s words offered no consolation.


That one who had argued so passionately for life, should take her own, left everybody reeling. Had it not been for Gordon Hake, however, my own role in this might have been less explosive. Hake, a journalist with a grudge I did not, at the time, understand, took it upon himself to blame me for her death. This was, in any case, a shock story, but it also provided a ripe topic for debate: the self destruction of the female artist. Like every good story, it was not complete without a villain. And who better (oh, familiar tale) than the silent husband to fill that role?


Looking back, I suppose I might have acted differently. Had I spoken to the press at the beginning, they might have found some sympathy for me. Hake’s version of events might have been rewritten; some other truth might have emerged. But for Hake, my silence was a perfect opportunity to slaughter me in prose. After a couple of weeks, his story gained weight, solidified. I ought to have sued, but at the time it was the last thing on my mind. Backed up by opinions from one-time ‘friends’, Alison and I were cast in our roles. There was one person, of course, whom they failed to find, but this didn’t deter them. Apparently an American woman had been seen with Alison in Glaven, but nobody knew who she was and nobody, not even Hake, could track her down. For me, this was a source of tremendous frustration. I could not help but hypothesise what this woman might reveal about Alison’s state of mind when she killed herself. I often wondered, if this woman were found, might my innocence at last be established? But it was a futile fantasy. While Alison herself achieved near-iconic status, I remained the one who had destroyed her, the bitter, thwarted husband who quashed her creativity.


The situation was not helped by the discovery of the manuscript. A fortnight before her death, Alison had left our home in Clapham to do some writing and research. She was working on a second novel, set in Glaven. The new book had proved difficult to begin with, but now it was flowing and she appeared happy when she left. The day following the discovery of her body, Alison’s landlady cleared her property from the cottage and found the remains of a manuscript – the unfinished novel – lying in the grate. Overlooked by the police, most of it was burnt to cinders. Only a few pages had escaped.

About the Author



Jacqui Lofthouse began her career in radio production and media training. In 1992 she studied for her MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia under Malcolm Bradbury and Rose Tremain. She is the author of four novels, The Temple of Hymen (Hamish Hamilton/Penguin 1995/1996), Bluethroat Morning (Bloomsbury 2000/Blackbird 2018), Een Stille Verdwijning, (De Bezige Bij 2005) and The Modigliani Girl (Blackbird 2015). Her novels have sold over 100,000 copies in the UK, the USA and Europe and have been widely reviewed.

You can follow Jacqui here: Facebook   |  Website   |  Twitter (The Writing Coach)  |  Twitter (@jacquilofthouse )

Book links: Amazon UK 

Jacqui has published a piece on her own blog which explains the background to the main theme of Bluethroat Morning. You can read it here.


                                                Do check out the rest of the tour! 


Thanks to Jacqui Lofthouse and Stephanie Zia of Blackbird Digital Books for the extract and a place on the tour.

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