My novel Heading over the Hill and the three stages of marriage.

When I wrote Heading over the Hill, I decided that my main protagonists would be a married couple who arrive in West Devon. Having left their children behind in their former house in Lancashire, they are now looking for a new life, an opportunity to start again.

My protagonists Billy and Dawnie are retired and in their early seventies. They have inherited some money  from Billy’s father and they want to buy a new home. Their children have grown, they have grandchild, great grandchildren, so the opportunity to start again is exciting. They have shared fond memories and they have different views on their newly empty nest, but they are both convinced that they have an ideal opportunity to concentrate on themselves.

Dawnie and Billy’s marriage hasn’t been an easy one. It’s been filled with children and laughter but, for some of the time, Billy has been an absent father. Although loyal to his wife, Billy is far from the perfect husband and Dawnie has had to shoulder much of the responsibility for day-to-day living over the years. Their marriage hasn’t been easy.

Billy and Dawnie aren’t a conventional couple. He keeps his Harley Davidson in the hall and she is outspoken and bold, wearing bright wigs and clothes. Not all the neighbours like them immediately but, as a couple, they are inseparable and fiercely loyal to each other.

Many people will recognise the stages of Billy and Dawnie’s marriage and, although I wanted to focus on the ‘third’ stage, a succinct history of the first two stages was important to establish in order to create a background to their story.

They met in their early twenties, besotted with each other, quickly recognizing their soul mate in the other and, without any careful thought for the future, they married and began a family. The first stage of marriage can be, in many cases, a whirlwind of strong emotions, a belief that the relationship will last forever, that it is idyllic and that true love is everything. Love conquers all! Of course, this doesn’t describe everyone’s first stage of a long-term partnership, but  Dawnie and Billy hurled themselves into marriage believing that it was going to be perfect forever, and much easier than they thought.

The second stage of their marriage was the treadmill stage, the mayhem of bringing up children that Emma Murray writes about so wittily in Time Out. For couples who don’t have children, perhaps it’s a more settled stage although external demands like careers and mortgages usually rear their heads for us all. But when Billy and Dawnie’s two children, Lindy Lou and Buddy, arrive they dominate their parents’ daily existence. With Billy not always present, or with frequent changes unsettling the family regime, life is not easy for Dawnie and, in fairness, Billy has a history which remains with him in the present. The love-conquers-all dream becomes simply about day-to-day survival.

Billy and Dawnie decide it’s time to move to Devon and find the perfect house by the sea. The third stage of their marriage is ‘their time’. The children are no longer dependent and Dawnie and Billy have the opportunity to follow their own path and to choose the life they would prefer. They rent a house in Margot Street, immediately termed ‘Maggot Street’ by Dawnie, in order to search for the dream house.

This third stage of marriage should be the most settled, arguably the easiest and the most deservedly selfish. Billy and Dawnie have earned it. They have come a long way together. Instead, they find themselves in a neighbourhood where not everyone likes each other. They make new friends, an enemy or two, and they discover that the empty nest is still a real issue and that they have to rethink a lot of their settled  beliefs about life and marriage.

Heading over the Hill is Billy and Dawnie’s story, focusing on the stage of marriage after the children have grown, but it is also the story of others’ relationships. There are other characters whose stories may resonate: a widow, a lonely man searching for love; two people stuck in a miserable relationship; a blissfully happy couple or two. It is about people reaching out to each other, about fun, sharing, communities and kindness, but also it is about life being lived at its fullest, enjoying each day as a blessing.


4 thoughts on “My novel Heading over the Hill and the three stages of marriage.

  1. I have just finished reading this and really enjoyed it, I especially love the characters. You have a way of creating a picture of the person for the reader without overloading the detail and I see your cast quite clearly.
    I have only recently discovered your books but how glad I have. This book was a lovely surprise when I discovered it is set in North Devon where I live. My own books are set in North Devon apart from a book of short stories.
    I shall look forward to reading your other books.
    Kind Regards Glenda Barnett

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to message me, Glenda, and special thanks for your kind words – we all need them so much more nowadays. North Devon is lovely – I’m just imagining how gorgeous Saunton beach is at the moment. Good luck with your books and short stories. I’ve just looked at some of your novels on Amazon and I’m going to check out Celia Ladygarden…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Judy, great to hear from you. We have just driven back from Barnstaple (hubby had the vaccine) and took the opportunity of legitimately being out to drive back via Instow. Under blue skies and sunshine we could clearly see the sea and Staunton Sands hotel in the distance and it was a treat to see Appledore across the estuary.
        Kindness is definitely worth more than gold during these strange times, it’s also great to connect with others. What would we have done without technology?
        How kind of you to look at my books, I’m very fond of Celia and her friends. Funnily enough she lives in a small North Devon village like me.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Celia gets some lovely reviews. I hope your husband is fine after his vaccine – my inlaws felt fine after theirs and are very relieved. Your drive home sounds glorious…I can’t wait until we can all travel again. Sending warm wishes…

        Liked by 1 person

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