NEW RELEASE – The Library at Wagtail Ridge by Janet Gover
An unexpected and unusual inheritance sets a young woman on the road to discover her mother’s deepest secret.
‘A charming and heartfelt rural romance perfect for readers of Rachael Johns and Karly Lane.’
paperback, eBook, audio
When Lou Taylor inherits a quaint country cottage and a mobile library full of books from her birth mother, she heads to the small town of Wagtail Ridge to learn more about the woman she never knew. Curiously, the last piece of the bequest is a handwritten letter, the first of many Luca left scattered along the library’s route in hopes of finally sharing her secrets with the daughter she had to give up.
The townspeople of Wagtail Ridge flock around Lou, wanting to share the stories of Luca’s life, but she knows she must learn about her birth mother in the way Luca intended. Jake Barnes, her new neighbour, offers to help her follow the trail, but weighing on his conscience is a promise he made to Luca – a secret that now stands between him and the woman who’s slowly capturing his heart…
As the kilometres fly by, Lou gradually untangles who her mother was and what lay behind the choices she made. At the same time, she finds herself drawing ever closer to kind, handsome Jake. But will it all be enough to keep her in Wagtail Ridge when she has another happy life waiting for her in the city?
‘A captivating story of love, family and belonging from award-winning romance author Janet Gover.’
We have an excerpt for you! But first, a few words from Janet Gover
I’m so happy to share The Library at Wagtail Ridge with you all.
As always, this story is a reflection of my own experiences of small town life. Our mobile library was such a wonder to me… all those books and stories arriving almost on my doorstep, just waiting for me.
This book is a thank you to the librarians who helped me find authors who really spoke to me, both when I was a child and into adulthood. And writing the book was also a chance to go back to the stories I loved – from Blinky Bill to the Silver Brumbies to the Thorn Birds. It was a wonderful journey of rediscovery.
I hope you enjoy Lou’s story.
Buy The Library at Wagtail Ridge
Excerpt from The Library at Wagtail Ridge
by Janet Gover
Luca’s hand looked incredibly frail as she reached for the door handle. Her fingers wrapped around the frosty metal, but she felt nothing. She gripped as tightly as she was able, twisted and pulled. The newly constructed door opened smoothly and she silently blessed her small town. She hadn’t been able to open the big front doors of her shed for some time now. Her friends had spent an entire day installing this smaller door so she could return to the place that was the whole world to her.
Inside the shed it was quite cold, but Luca was well rugged up. It was dark too, despite the beams of winter sunlight spearing through the cracks and holes in the timber walls. Luca didn’t need much light. She knew every inch of the shed and the vehicle stored in it as well as she knew her own kitchen. Until recent weeks, she had spent far more time here, sorting the contents not only of the truck, but of the boxes stored on the shelves that lined the back wall of the shed. She couldn’t read the labels in the darkness, but she didn’t need to. The lower shelves were all boxes of school textbooks, maths and English and history ready for the next intake of students who needed them. The boxes on the second shelf held musical instruments and sports equipment. Close to the door were a couple of boxes of fabric and yarn. The art materials box was empty, but it always was. Paper and paint and crayons were always in high demand.
She crossed to the truck and laid her fragile hand against its familiar and comforting shape. Her bones were as brittle as birds’ wings. Her skin was almost translucent, exposing a network of blue veins. Luca wasn’t as old as her hands looked, but that was what illness did to a body. There was nothing she could do to stop the tremor in the hands that had once driven this truck through the bush or repaired a delicate book … or held a child.
She gently caressed the letters painted on the side of the truck. They had faded a little and the layer of red dust made them dull, but Luca felt the same passion she had always felt for this wonderland that had given her so much joy. She felt a welcome sense of familiarity, almost like coming home, as she opened the door set in the side of the truck. The stairs were folded safely away and she opened the panels below the door and took hold of the metal frame. Her strength was barely up to it but finally the steps slid into place with a familiar and satisfying click. That sound had always heralded the start of a new and exciting journey, and not just for her.
Luca gripped the rail firmly as she climbed into the interior of the truck. The lights came on at the touch of a switch. She had known they would. One of her friends would have made sure everything was ready for her to make this last visit to the library. She was exhausted by the time she slid into the chair behind the small desk bolted to the wall. Walking from the house to the shed had sapped what little energy she was still able to muster. She would have to rest a few minutes before she could do what she had come to do.
Closing her eyes, Luca took a deep breath. Despite all these weeks left idle in the shed, the mobile library had retained all its magic. That magic came from the books that lined the walls. Even with her eyes closed, she could see each one of them in its proper place on the metal shelves. She loved them all, but some were special.
The rear wall was given over to the children’s collection, from books with colourful numbers and letters to learn, to Dr Seuss and Little Grey Rabbit. Luca could once have recited the words of all her favourites. The books for the older kids resided in the higher shelves. Pride of place in the middle went to the brumbies—white horses roughly sketched against a mountain backdrop. She must have read them all a dozen times over the years, and had always planned to read them again. She probably didn’t have enough time now.
On the left wall of the library, the top three shelves held a well-worn cluster of romance novels. She always smiled when she saw a male reader surreptitiously slide one of those from the shelves when he thought no-one was watching. She always kept the book between two meaty crime novels as she checked it out. She’d often wondered what the slightly embarrassed romance fans would have said if they knew how many other hatted and booted stockmen and farmers had a soft spot for a happy ever after.
The single poetry shelf had attracted fewer visitors, but her bush poets had been eager, and the turnover had always been high.
She could still hear the voices. And see the eager faces. Have you got any more books by this author? Thank you for suggesting this; it was great. I cried as I read the last chapter … Fascinating … Interesting … Wonderful.
Yes—full of wonder. Those were the words she used when she talked about her little mobile library. A magical place of dreams and wonder for young and old alike. Even after both she and the library were no longer ‘official’ she had kept those dreams alive for herself and for readers in the small towns that had been forgotten or left behind. So many books. So many readers. So many memories. But not one of them as important as what she was about to do.
Luca picked up the tote bag she’d brought from the house. She carefully laid the writing paper, pen and envelopes on the desk. Then she pulled a photograph in a silver frame from the bag and placed it where she could see it. She looked at it for a long time. Her own face was much changed from that of the young woman in the photograph. She barely recognised herself now. The child would be a young woman today, but Luca would still know her. She was the reason Luca had made the effort to come all the way to the library today. She could have done this in the house and saved herself both the physical and emotional journey, but so much of her life had been lived within these walls that she couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
The first letter was easy to write, despite the tremor in her hand. The recipient had received detailed instructions months ago. He knew what she wanted and he would do it.
But the second one …
Her hand hovered over the white sheet. She had written this letter in her mind so many times over the past couple of years, and while the words had been different each time, every one of them had said the same thing—words that were so important they might begin a journey of discovery, or lay waste to her best hope. She would never know which.
Luca took a deep breath and looked once more at the photograph. She didn’t need the doctors to tell her she had very little time left. She could only hope that when she was gone, her words would be read by that little girl.
She picked up a pen.
My Darling Daughter …
Award Winning Author
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