Title: The Kicking the Bucket List
By author: Cathy Hopkins
Release Date: March 9th, 2017
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Meet the daughters of Iris Parker. Dee; sensitive and big-hearted; Rose uptight and controlled and Fleur the reckless free spirit.
At the reading of their mother’s will, the three estranged women are aghast to discover that their inheritance comes with very tricky strings attached. If they are to inherit her wealth, they must spend a series of weekends together over the course of a year and carry out their mother’s ‘bucket list’.
But one year doesn’t seem like nearly enough time for them to move past the decades-old layers of squabbles and misunderstandings. Can they grow up for once and see that Iris’s bucket list was about so much more than money…
The Kicking the Bucket List is the perfect read for women in their mid 40’s to 60’s looking for honesty, warmth and humour. Fans of Last Tango in Halifax and The Best Marigold Hotel movie will adore it. It’s the perfect Mother’s Day read.
AmazonUK (also delivers to USA)
Say Hello to author Cathy Hopkins!
Cathy started writing in 1986. She has sold in the region of 6 million books worldwide. She has written five series for the teen market (including the Mates Dates series which was published in thirty five countries) and four standalone novels. This is her first novel for the adult women’s fiction market. Cathy has had a varied career: she has been in a successful Rock and Roll band, worked in a mental health hospital as an Occupational Therapist, taught meditation and worked as an aromatherapist, and has read scripts for the BBC comedy department. Cathy lives in Bath with her husband and three cats. Follow her on twitter @CathyHopkins1
• Cathy is a professional writer who has written many novels for teens as well as some adult humour and self-help and is confident and wise, happy to talk about issues within the book and available to write pieces on relationships, ageing, families, the secret of happiness!
Tuesday 1 September
The offices of Wilson Richardson solicitors were on the first floor in a block on the main road through Chiswick in London. The carpeted stairs smelt musty and I noted that the reception area on the first floor was in need of a lick of paint. Rose, my neat, petite sister, was already there, not a hair of her dark bob out of place and still dressed in black though it was almost eight weeks since Mum had died. I’d decided against funereal clothes and, it being a warm September day, had dressed in grey trousers and a pale green kaftan top. We were spared the awkwardness of our meeting because we barely had time to greet each other or sit before we were ushered into Mr Richardson’s office by a receptionist with blonde hair pulled back severely from her forehead. My youngest sister, Fleur, used to call the style the Dagenham facelift, back in the days when we were still speaking to each other.he offices of Wilson Richardson solicitors were on the first floor in a block on the main road through Chiswick
A tall, bald man with glasses was seated behind a heavy oak desk. ‘Mr Richardson,’ he said.
‘I’m Rose and this is Dee. You may have her written down in your papers as Daisy,’ said Rose.
‘I am here and can speak for myself,’ I said.
Rose sighed. ‘Go ahead then. I was only being helpful. Your two names can be confusing for people.’
I focused on Mr Richardson. ‘I’m Daisy, Dee. Most people call me Dee but my mother liked to call me Daisy.’
‘As I said,’ said Rose.
Well this is a great start, I thought, as the solicitor gestured to three chairs that had been placed opposite the desk for the reading of Mum’s will. ‘Please, have a seat,’ he said.
‘My sister Fleur will be with us shortly,’ said Rose as she sat down.
‘She’s always late. She’ll be late for her own funeral,’ I said, then half coughed and cursed myself.
As we waited, I felt as if I was back at school and had been called in to see the headmaster. I wanted to get the reading over with and get home. Rose’s left foot was twitching so I reckoned she was feeling the same. She was the most in-control person I had ever known, but that foot gave her away; it always had, as if she wanted to be up, out and anywhere else. Out and away from me, away from Fleur, I imagined.
I don’t know about her life at all any more, I thought as Rose checked her watch. I wonder if she’s happy. How are she and Hugh getting on? What will she do with her share of the inheritance, and does she need it as badly as I do? Probably not.
We already knew that Mum would have left us equal shares of her money; she’d told us all years ago. The house in Hampstead, where we grew up, had belonged to Dad’s parents back in the 1950s and Mum and Dad had inherited it when they died. Victorian, four bedroomed and near the Heath, it had accumulated in value over the years. Mum did shabby chic before it was trendy, and the house had an old-fashioned charm about it, with original features, fireplaces and wooden floors so, despite being in need of modernization (the estate agent’s word for falling down) and the ancient plumbing and life-endangering electrics, it still went for just over two million when Mum sold it and moved to a retirement village. My share would be more than enough to sort out my finances, have a good pension pot and some to help my daughter, Lucy if she needed it. No substitute for having Mum here, though, I thought as a wave of grief at her loss, still so raw, hit me.
We didn’t have to wait long. Five minutes later, the recep- tionist ushered Fleur in. Her skin was brown and her hair a sun-kissed blonde as if she’d been away. She had also decided against black and was dressed in a crepe summer dress with tiny coral and cream flowers and red kitten heels that looked like they cost a bomb. I tucked my scuffed M&S loafers under my chair as Mr Richardson indicated that Fleur should take the empty seat.
‘Traffic was awful . . . ’ she began but didn’t continue when Rose sighed heavily to express her disapproval. Part of Rose’s anal personality was that she was obsessively punctual and disapproved of anyone who wasn’t on time. Fleur must have realized that we’d heard it all before, even if it was a long time ago. She took a seat with a brief nod to me.
Mr Richardson cleared his throat and picked up some papers from his desk. ‘So let’s get on, shall we? Your late mother, Iris Parker, instructed me to invite you all here today. She left her will, which I’ll get to, but she asked that I read a letter to you first. Shall I go ahead?’
Rose glanced at Fleur and me. ‘Letter? When was it written?’ she asked. She was clearly put out that she didn’t know about this. Hah, I thought, good. Though I hadn’t known about it either.
‘April of this year,’ Mr Richardson replied.
‘Three months before she died,’ Rose commented.
Mr Richardson nodded. ‘That would be about right. Shall I begin?’
‘Please,’ said Rose. Answering for all of us, I thought.
Nothing ever changes.
Mr Richardson began to read.
‘“My dearest girls, for girls are what you will always be to me.
‘“I’m writing a few things I want you to know when I am gone.
‘“First of all, remember me but don’t be sad. I’ve grown weary of late and am ready to go and be with your father, who I am sure will be waiting for me. Remember me but think of me with you as I used to be when I was in better health and let those memories bring you comfort.
‘“Secondly, don’t feel guilty about my last chapter. It’s a waste of time. I tried to tell you all but you were all so wrapped up in it that I don’t think you heard. Guilt is an indulgence and – like anger – it eats away at you. Let it go. Hear what I have to say next and take it in. I was happy to go to the retirement village. I made good friends there, had good care and maintained my independence, which was important to me. Much as I love you, I think we’d have driven each other mad if I’d come to live with any of you. We’re all grown women and each have our own way of doing things. To sell the family home and move was my choice. Mine. I’d outgrown that lovely old house in Hampstead. It was way too much for me to manage. I wanted to simplify my life and my responsibilities and had felt that way for some years. So despite all your thoughts about my best interests and where you thought I should have been, let it go. I was where I wanted to be.
‘“Daisy, you especially. What would I have done in Cornwall? I don’t know anyone down there, apart from you. It would have been like living in a foreign country for me, and I’d have missed my dear Jean and never have met Martha, who has become such a good friend these last few years. It turned out for the best.
‘“As I write this, I don’t know when I’ll go or which of you will be with me, if any of you so I wanted to say, so all of you can hear this and take it in, that most of us can’t choose the time or circumstances of our passing. Don’t feel bad if you don’t make it to my side. I have a lifetime of memories with each of you, as you do of me. Remember and cherish those and don’t cling on to my final weeks or months. They are only part of my journey. Remember the whole. I’ve had a good and full life. Let me go. Just as with birth, none of us can predict how the end will be. Remember, Daisy, you had your plans for a home birth with Lucy. You had the birthing pool, your CD of that god-awful music with dolphins squeaking in the background (heaven knows how that was supposed to relax you) and your aroma- therapy oils, and Andy was supposed to be there to support you and rub your back. Hah. Remember? Then you had to have a Caesarean in a hospital and not a dolphin in sight. Rose, you’d planned it all too, practical as ever, and booked into that lovely private hospital – and what happened? You gave birth in the back of a taxi. I wonder if the driver ever recovered.”’
I glanced at Rose. This was the perfect moment for us to acknowledge each other and our past with some affection, but she kept her eyes on Mr Richardson, her back and posture stiff.
‘“Whatever got us down here when we were born,”’ Mr Richardson continued reading, ‘“will get us out; but, like with birth, it might not be the smooth transition or perfect time we have planned or hoped for. I believe some force or power will be there to guide me out just as it guided me in. So don’t worry if you’re not with me, or stress over the circumstances if it appeared to be a bumpy exit. When it’s my time, it will be my time.
‘“Remember I love you and am proud of you all, my dear independent, individual flowers. Be proud of who you are and what you’ve achieved and don’t compare yourself to each other. Each flower has its own beauty. Know that and be who you are. Be yourself.
‘“And so, I know you will have come expecting to hear my will. As I always said, whatever I had will be divided equally. No arguments. I know Fleur that you’re comfortably off but circumstances in life can change. The rich become poor, the poor become rich. And Daisy, you never know, an agent might discover your wonderful paintings, sign you up and make you a fortune. And Rose, you and Hugh have your jobs and your family and might not feel you need the inheritance that I will leave, but it is yours by right. Long before your father died, we had agreed. Everything we have will be divided equally between you, a third each. But not until a year after my death.”’
‘A year?’ I gasped.
Mr Richardson looked up. ‘Do you need a moment?’ ‘Did you say a year?’ I asked. ‘From now?’
Mr Richardson nodded. ‘Yes.’
I groaned inwardly. Unlike Rose and Fleur, I was strug- gling to make ends meet, work teaching art was sparse where I lived and the sales of my paintings had decreased, mainly due to the fact that I’d felt uninspired of late.
‘Shall I continue?’ asked Mr Richardson. Rose gave a curt nod.
‘Please,’ we chorused.
Mr Richardson went back to the letter.
‘“In that year, I have something I want you all to do. A condition of my will. I’ve thought about this long and hard and am acting in your best interests, although you might not believe me at first.”’ Mr Richardson looked up at us. I stole another glance at my sisters. Rose’s expression was tight, Fleur’s curious. Mr Richardson rustled the papers on his desk, then began to read again.
‘“Dear ones, my friends, Martha and Jean, and I all know we are in our last chapters. We talk about it a lot. What we’ve done with our lives, what we believe about death. Some of the elderly people here at the village talk about bucket lists – what they would have liked to have done if they’d had the time, or what they managed to do before they had to come and live here. I’ve had a happy and full life. I got to do everything I wanted. I had no need of a bucket list. I’ve had many experiences, known joy, love, as well as sadness, which is part of life; but I do have one regret and that is that you, my girls, are no longer in contact with each other and that I, your mother, didn’t do more to remedy that. Don’t think I don’t know that your visits to me were separate by design so that you didn’t have to see each other, and not, as you all claimed it was, because of geography or just life taking over. I might be in my late eighties but I’m not daft. At first, I didn’t know how to get you back together again. I know how stubborn you all are, but then, talking things over with Jean and Martha, a plan began to hatch in my brain. A kicking the bucket list! A bucket list is something you do while you still have time. A kicking the bucket list is for when you don’t. I may not have much time left, but you three do. So I have devised a list that I want you to follow. I’ve made this request a condition of my will so that I’ll hopefully achieve with my death what I didn’t manage in life, and that is to get you all back together. And how is this going to be achieved? Well, first of all, I’m going to ask that, for the next year, you spend one weekend every other month with each other.”’
Beside me, Rose had clenched her fists. Fleur looked over at me and raised an eyebrow.
‘“I’m going to ask that some of the weekends are spent at each other’s houses – so dust off your spare rooms, I know each of you has the space now; but not just to visit each other, no, that would be far too boring. Sitting oppo- site each other drinking tea? No. I have organized a quest of sorts. I’ll tell you more about it later, but I want you to have shared experiences. Don’t worry, it’s all organized, and Mr Richardson will explain what I want you to do. With this plan, I can rest in peace, knowing that I have done all I can. There won’t be tasks like climbing Machu Picchu, learning how to line dance, etc. Oh no, mine will be much more fun, but maybe not in the way that you’d imagine. Just pencil in the second weekend of every other month and follow the instructions that you’ll be given. If any one of you fails to take part, no one gets their inheritance, so every second month, Mr Richardson will ask for your signa- tures saying you’ve all done as I asked.
‘“Oh, I wish I could see your faces now. How are you going to refuse the last wish of your dead mother? I thought the ‘I shall rest in peace knowing I have done all I can to bring you back together’ bit is particularly good. Yes, I suppose it is blackmail of sorts. Not something I would normally adhere to, but I’ll be gone by the time you hear this letter, and won’t be around to hear you complain.”’
Fleur burst out laughing and Rose shook her head, as though she couldn’t quite believe what she was hearing. I could. I could easily believe it, and imagined Mum’s eyes twinkling with mischief as she wrote the letter.
‘“In the meantime, I’d like you to try talking to God or whatever power you believe in,”’ Mr Richardson went on. ‘“I’ve read that meditation is listening to God and prayer is talking, so have a word. Talk to the wall if you prefer, like Shirley Valentine did. You don’t have to believe or do it every day, just now and then, when you feel like it or if something’s troubling you. I think it puts you in touch with what’s going on inside of you and that’s never a bad thing. In the hustle and bustle of life, we can often ignore what our hearts are telling us and I’ve found it makes me feel better so see where it takes you. If you don’t, I’ll come back and haunt you. Only joking Daisy. Don’t worry.
‘“Rose, Daisy, Fleur – all I care about is your well-being, and that you’re happy in your lives. What mother doesn’t want that for her children? I hope that this condition and my kicking the bucket list will go some way to helping you attain that. Goodbye my darling girls, God bless. With love as always, Mum. Deceased. Dead. Departed.”’
I let out a deep breath. ‘Holy shit.’
‘Exactly,’ Fleur agreed, then chuckled. ‘The sly old fox.’ Rose looked as if she’d sucked a lemon.
Thank you, Cathy (& her publishing team), for allowing me to feature you and your fabulous new release on The Kicking the Bucket List. Your cover is absolutely stunning and I just can’t wait to read this one!
*author photo credit to Cathy Hopkins.