Finding Felix by Jo Platt ** Blog Tour Extract**
Today on Books, Life and Everything, I am featuring Jo Platt's latest novel, Finding Felix, with an extract. Released on 6th August 2018 by Canelo, it is a funny, feel-good romantic comedy- just the thing for a holiday read.
A family wedding. A fake boyfriend. A recipe for disaster!
Singleton Dot Riley’s grandmother, Nanny Flo, is on her deathbed, surrounded by family and distraught at the thought of Dot being all alone in the world. Desperate to make Flo’s final moments happy ones, Dot invents a boyfriend – plumping in panic for her childhood friend, Felix, a firm favourite of Flo, but whom Dot hasn’t actually seen for 15 years.
But when Flo makes an unexpected recovery a few weeks before a family wedding, Dot is faced with a dilemma. Should she tell her frail grandmother that she lied and risk causing heartache and a relapse? Or should she find Felix and take him to the wedding?
Dot opts for finding Felix. But it’s not long before she discovers that finding him is the easy bit: liking him is the real challenge.
An uplifting romantic comedy about the angst of adult relationships and the joy of rediscovering the child within. Finding Felix is perfect for fans of Anna Bell, Tracy Bloom and Debbie Viggiano.
‘I think you have three choices,’ she said after a moment.
‘Really?’ I experienced a sudden surge of surprised optimism.
Three choices were two more than I’d hoped for.
‘Your first option is to fess up to everyone.’
I immediately felt my optimism begin to wane. ‘Confess that I told Nanny Flo a mega lie on her deathbed? That’ll go down well just before a family wedding.’
‘Don’t discount it,’ persisted Kate. ‘Becca already knows the truth, your dad would accept that you meant well and your mother…’ She hesitated and pulled a face. ‘Well, she’s got a month to get over it.’
I shook my head. ‘You know Mum. She’d never get over it. She’s still upset about Dad saying he couldn’t go to a ballroom taster class with her because he had to work late, when in fact he was hiding in the pub.’
‘To be fair to your mum,’ Kate smiled, ‘I’d be a bit fed up if Fred pulled something like that. When did that happen?’
Her smile dropped. ‘OK, so that is quite a long time to be cross.’
I shrugged. ‘I could cope with her lifelong disappointment in me if I had to. My real concern is that Nanny’s not exactly fighting fit and on top of the world these days. I just don’t know how she’d take it. She’s still very frail and I’m afraid that…’ I looked up, leaving the fear unspoken. ‘I don’t want to put her through that, Kate,’ I said quietly. ‘I don’t want her to know that I lied.’
She bit her lip and waved a hand. ‘Fair enough, forget about fessing up,’ she said with a slight catch in her voice. She paused for a moment and cleared her throat. ‘So, moving on, option two is that you claim you and Philip have split up. But you tell Nanny Flo that you are still very good friends, that you both feel good about the decision and that it’s all for the best.’
‘It’s Felix,’ I corrected again, experiencing a slight twinge of annoyance that she seemed incapable of remembering my pretend boyfriend’s name. ‘And I would have gone with that option if I hadn’t told Mum on the phone last night that we were still together and that things were good. And she had me on speakerphone so Nanny heard,’ I added, closing and then rubbing my eyes as I felt a headache coming on.
Kate didn’t reply, and, after a moment, I reopened my eyes to find her staring at me expressionlessly. ‘Now why on earth would you tell your mother that?’ she asked quietly, her tone searingly to the point. ‘Why would you perpetuate the myth when you had an opportunity to draw it to a believable conclusion?’
‘Because I panicked,’ I replied, taking a breath and attempting to remain unflustered in the face of her unblinking gaze and crushing rationality. ‘Mum asked me, absolutely out of the blue, how we were and I said everything was fine. I wasn’t expecting her to raise the subject after months of silence, and my aim was to dead-end the topic and move on. But then she said she needed to confirm the seating plan for the wedding, which was something I really hadn’t seen coming. It hadn’t occurred to me that she’d want him to come.’
‘It hadn’t occurred to you that she would expect your boyfriend, whom your whole family knew for over a decade as a child growing up, to come to your sister’s wedding?’ Kate’s tone had now shifted to incredulous.
‘She hadn’t mentioned him!’ I protested, throwing up my hands and abandoning all pretence of calm. ‘No one had mentioned him! He was off the radar… in the Bermuda Triangle of my consciousness. It was like he’d evaporated. Like he didn’t exist. Which, of course, he bloody doesn’t!’
‘OK, OK,’ she said, holding up a placatory hand. ‘I get it. You were taken by surprise. Go on. What else did your mother say?’
I reclosed my eyes and took a deep breath. ‘Well,’ I began again, trying to keep my voice steady, ‘then it was as if the floodgates had opened and she just kept going on and on about how happy the whole thing had made her and Dad and, of course, Nanny Flo. And then Nanny started shouting in the background that Felix had saved her life and that she couldn’t wait to see him again after all these years.’ I groaned and ran a hand through my hair. ‘God, what am I going to do? I’ve ruined everything for everyone.’ I slumped forward, resting my cheek on the conference table. ‘They’re all going to be so upset and let down and it’s supposed to be the happiest day of Becca’s life. It’s a disaster.’
‘Hush now,’ said Kate comfortingly, standing up and leaning across the table to gently rub my shoulder. ‘Don’t be defeatist, and try to stay calm. Getting yourself all worked up isn’t going to help, is it?’
I felt myself relax slightly as she continued to rub. ‘I’m sorry for being shouty and panicky,’ I mumbled, my face still pressed against the table.
‘It’s OK,’ she said softly. ‘I understand. It’s a huge mess and the potential to hurt and disappoint the people you love the most is enormous. No one would want to be in your shoes right now.’
‘What?’ I exclaimed, sitting up and shrugging her off, my panic immediately resurging. ‘You’re supposed to be helping me, not buying into my despair. What about option number three? You said I had three options.’
‘Well, I would have thought the third one was obvious,’ she said, shrugging and sitting back down. ‘Find Phil – or whoever. Track him down and see if he’s up for it.’
I screwed up my face. ‘Sorry, what?’ I asked after a moment.
‘Find him and ask him if he’ll go to the wedding with you,’ she repeated, her face and tone completely relaxed, as if this was the most reasonable suggestion in the world.
‘I can’t do that.’
‘Why not?’ she asked, appearing genuinely confused.
‘Well, because he…’
‘He what?’ Her expression remained calm.
‘Well, I haven’t seen him in years. Over a decade. And it’s such a big ask.’
She raised her eyebrows. ‘You’re inviting him to a party, Dot, not requesting a kidney. What kind of bloke was he?’
‘Big and round,’ I said. It was an instinctive reply. At school, and into manhood, Felix had been what Nanny Flo termed cuddly. In fact, I reflected, by the time he was twenty, he was six-two and probably a good three or four stone overweight. ‘He liked pies and pasties. A lot.’
Kate blinked. ‘Okaaay, but moving on from his physique and dietary preferences, what was his personality like? Kind? Fun? Helpful?’
I didn’t even have to think about it. ‘Yes,’ I said immediately. ‘He was all of those things.’
‘Well then,’ she said, ‘he sounds like just the kind of guy who would give up a few hours of his day to help out an old friend.’
About the Author
I found that that this was the type of book I could not put down and re-read the ending, which is always a sign that I have really enjoyed the story. I thought that the range of characters all added something to the story, especially Nanny Flo. This is such a likeable story with a warm and feel-good air about it. I also enjoyed the fact that you kind of knew what the back-story was going to be, but that it was still a surprise when it was unveiled in the prologue.
Felix himself is a bit of a riddle and it is only as the story progresses that you come to realise what his feelings are. My most favourite character of course is Dot, who seems to let her sub-conscious self take charge at all the key moments. She is funny and yet wears her heart on her sleeve for all those who care to notice it. For a light hearted and yet enjoyable read, this cannot be beaten. I will definitely search out some more by Jo Platt.
In short: A romcom with heart.
About the Author
Jo Platt was born in Liverpool in 1968 and, via the extremely winding route of rural Wiltshire, London, Seattle and St Albans, she is now happily settled in Bristol with her husband and two daughters. She studied English at King's College London before going on to work in the City for ten years. In 2000 she escaped into motherhood and part-time employment, first as an assistant teacher in a Seattle pre-school and then was a Bristol-based secretary to her husband.
Thanks to Jo Platt and Ellie Pilcher of Canelo Books for a place on the tour.
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