A Year of Mr. Maybes: one woman’s journey from rejection to independence

Val’s Christmas, which she later calls ‘the fiasco’, begins quite normally as she prepares a lunch for her husband of forty-seven years who is out having a Christmas drink with the boys. But when Ray is late, Val drives to the pub to give him a lift home. It’s all quite innocent, a normal trip made out of kindness. But what Val sees in the pub changes her life forever.

One year later, she and Ray are no longer together and she has moved to the little coastal town of Lowenstowe:

Lowenstowe was a jewel on the coast of north Cornwall, sparkling like a sapphire in the white winter sun. It was the perfect place for Val to find refuge, to start again, to allow the winds from the west to blow painful memories away, to watch waves ebb and flow, and to heal.

Starting again at seventy-two is always going to be fraught with difficulty. One Christmas after ‘the fiasco’, Val is alone and wondering how she’ll manage by herself. She has to admit she still loves Ray. Then when her son who lives in Canada tells her he’s getting married at the end of the year, she begins a quest to find the perfect plus-one to balance the wedding photos. But after so many years, she has no idea what her ‘type’ is or how to begin looking. She is badly out of practice and is glad to have her neighbour Connie as a date coach. The quest to find Mr. December, or Mr. Maybe, but certainly not Mr. Right begins:

Val smiled. It didn’t matter that Nigel wasn’t her type – she had managed to get through the date in one piece; she’d practised the art of conversation and successfully negotiated the obvious pitfalls of a man who believed he was an irresistible love god. She’d taken the first step on the road to recovery.

The community of Lowenstowe plays a huge part in Val’s journey of recovery. Neighbours become friends and she is whirled into the campaign to make the environment she lives in the cleanest and best it can be. In Cornwall, many houses are holiday homes, income often comes from fishing or from the ‘emmets,’ annual holiday makers on whom local businesses depend. But when Val meets Loveday Moon, an eighty-year-old resident and eco-warrior, she can’t resist helping out. 

‘No husband, then?’ Loveday delved into her bag behind the counter and offered a Hobnob from an open packet.

‘Divorced,’ Val said as she took a biscuit.

As the year progresses, Val integrates within the community and continues her search for the perfect plus-one to take to Tom and Lottie’s wedding. She has limited success and she learns a great deal about herself when things don’t go to plan.

Val smiled. It didn’t matter that Nigel wasn’t her type – she had managed to get through the date in one piece; she’d practised the art of conversation and successfully negotiated the obvious pitfalls of a man who believed he was an irresistible love god. She’d taken the first step on the road to recovery.

The weather changes and Cornwall comes to life as the year progresses: in the summer time, there are festivals, fun times to be had on the beach and a turtle is washed up on the shore. Val thrives during the summer months, meeting new people, sharing laughter and a few tears.

Bumping into him outside The Sprat had taken her by surprise. He had been so close, just a few feet away, and the old feelings of familiarity, warmth and affection had returned, tumbling back on a tidal wave of emotion.

Summer becomes autumn, then winter. Val and her friends in the Lowenstowe Buccaneers, an environmental community group, hold events to raise money and to highlight their conservational concerns. As Tom’s wedding approaches, Val has decisions to make about the plus one who would perfectly balance the photos. She has learned so much about herself during the year and her priorities are changing. Then Christmas looms, and with it some unexpected events:

 Fore Street was already bustling with shoppers although it was only just past nine. Strings of bright lights had been hung between buildings, a crimson Santa, a row of reindeer, bursting golden stars.

In A Year of Mr Maybes, my love of Cornwall, its rugged and beautiful scenery and the warmth of the Cornish people, direct, loyal and loveable, are the backdrop of Val’s story. It is one woman’s journey from rejection to independence, a learning curve that also has ups and downs. It is about the importance of community and friendship, about love and about how caring for the natural environment in which we live is such a huge priority.

 ‘It’s a perfect day.’ Val glanced up at the November sky, vast and bright, the deep blue blotched with a few shreds of clouds. ‘Well at least it won’t rain.’

Loveday barked a laugh. ‘This is Cornwall, Valerie. Don’t you be so sure.’

A Year of Mr Maybes is published by Boldwood Books on March 29th and can be pre-ordered on: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Year-Mr-Maybes-feel-good-Bestseller-ebook/dp/B09MTXBNRL/?

I do hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it…

2 thoughts on “A Year of Mr. Maybes: one woman’s journey from rejection to independence

  1. The secret theme in your books, behind the narrative of looking for someine to love, is the realisation that to do so the protagonist first had to learn to love themselves, and sometimes that is enough. It is transformative, and it is a gift you bestow on secondary characters as well as the principle. The phrase ‘it is never too late to…’ has multiple endings and the joy in your stories lies in the fact that there are so many different wonderful, soul enriching discoveries for the hurt and lost souls in your books to make!

    Liked by 1 person

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