Today, I’d like to welcome author Sandra Danby to my blog. Sandra’s latest novel is about an artist, and is set in her native Yorkshire – no prizes for spotting the overlaps with my own work! Over to you, Sandra.
One of the landmarks of childhood is realising that your experience does not typify the norm; that other children live completely different lives from the one you live, that not all families are like yours. We make easy assumptions about a person based on the public face we see, but we cannot know what is really going on inside her head or why she is the person she is.
This public/private conundrum came to fascinate me the more I wrote the character of Justine Tree, the artist in my new novel Connectedness. As an art student, she gave away her baby. As an adult artist, hugely successful, she hides the truth and her emotions within her art. Always afraid someone will work out the truth. Disguising her secret with the image of an over-emotional artist who shows everything to the public. Wearing a mask. When all the time her secret is there within her art, if someone only takes the time to analyse and observe the detail.
Throughout her training and career as an artist, Justine struggles with the concept of truth. Should she paint what the tutors expect of her, even though she dislikes it, in order to get a good mark? Will she submit to her agent’s demands for additional small works because ‘they sell well’ even though Justine dislikes painting to order. Should she tell the truth about the hidden contents of her collages; the filling, the bubble wrap, the air? Her work focuses on nature and her Yorkshire childhood; subjects she feels are safe, but scratch the surface and her shame will be revealed. How much longer can she go on hiding her secret, the pain of which explode with relentless frequency causing mind-bending migraines which oddly free her from the trauma to paint without constraint.
But how, if she embraces the truth and searches for her lost daughter, how can her art survive if she admits she has lied? How can her daughter ever respect a mother who not only abandoned her but denied her existence? Once she has charged identity detective Rose Haldane with finding her daughter, Justine is terrified of the process she has set in motion, obscuring facts, avoiding Rose’s questions, ignoring emails. The truth, it is said, will set you free. To Justine, the truth could mean the end… or a new beginning.
To the outside world, artist Justine Tree has it all… but she always has a secret that threatens to destroy everything. Her art sells around the world, but does anyone truly know her? When her mother dies, she returns to her childhood home in Yorkshire where she decides to confront her past. She asks journalist Rose Haldane to find the baby she gave away when she was an art student, but only when Rose starts to ask difficult questions does Justine truly understand what she must face.
Is Justine strong enough to admit the secrets and lies of her past? To speak aloud the deeds she has hidden for 27 years, the real inspiration for her work that sells for millions of pounds. Could the truth trash her artistic reputation? Does Justine care more about her daughter, or her art? And what will she do if her daughter hates her?
This tale of art, adoption, romance and loss moves between now and the Eighties, from London’s art world to the bleak isolated cliffs of East Yorkshire and the hot orange blossom streets of Málaga, Spain.
A family mystery for fans of Maggie O’Farrell, Lucinda Riley, Tracy Rees and Rachel Hore.
Sandra Danby is a proud Yorkshire woman, tennis nut and tea drinker. She believes a walk on the beach will cure most ills. Unlike Rose Haldane, the identity detective in her two novels, Ignoring Gravity and Connectedness, Sandra is not adopted.
About the ‘Identity Detective’ series
Rose Haldane, journalist and identity detective, reunites the people lost through adoption. The stories you don’t see on television shows. The difficult cases. The people who cannot be found, who are thought lost forever. And each new challenge makes Rose re-live her own adoption story, each birth mother and father, adopted child, and adoptive parent she talks to, reminds her of her own birth mother Kate. Each book in the ‘Identity Detective’ series considers the viewpoint of one person trapped in this horrible dilemma. In the first book of the series, Ignoring Gravity, it is Rose’s experience we follow as an adult discovering she was adopted as a baby. Connectedness is the story of a birth mother, her hopes and anxieties, her guilt and fear, and her longing to see her baby again. Sweet Joy, the third novel, will tell the story of a baby abandoned during The Blitz, and how the now elderly woman is desperate to know her story before it is too late.
Amazon UK link: https://amzn.to/2q6qy5Z
Author website: http://www.sandradanby.com/