Something to Hide: A Novel
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“Classic Moggach: readable, memorable . . . an unashamedly colorful journey across continents, with clothes, food, landscapes brought joyously to life.” —The Times (London)
“Nobody in the world knows our secret . . . that I’ve ruined Bev’s life, and she’s ruined mine.”
Petra’s romantic life has always been a car crash, and even in her sixties she’s still getting it disastrously wrong. And then she falls in love with Jeremy, an old friend visiting from abroad. There’s just one catch: Jeremy is married to her best friend, Bev.
Meanwhile, on opposite sides of the world, two other women are also struggling with the weight of betrayal: Lorrie, a Texan, is about to embark on the biggest deception of her life, and in China, Li Jing is trying to understand exactly what it is her husband does on his business trips.
It turns out that no matter where you are in the world or how well you think you know the one you love, everyone has secrets.
for instance. The thing is, I’m lonely. Howlingly, achingly lonely. I can’t phone my children because, for them, it’s either the middle of the night or six in the morning. Besides, they have their own lives and I don’t want to sound needy. Of course I have friends but they’ll be at work. I should be at work. I’m a picture researcher and should be up in my study by now. It appears to be eleven o’clock, however, and I’m still in my dressing-gown. Hammerings come from the basement where at last a
had brought them together. Previously both women had made a meagre living selling cassava, which they chopped laboriously by hand, paying a middle-man for the milling. But with the help of the tin box they had clubbed together to buy a milling machine and now they worked it together, joking about Yawo’s sexual prowess and his pitiful boasts as the machine whirred away. Could Ernestine ever imagine sharing her husband with another woman? The idea was disgusting. She would rather die. Later, back
of kerosene and dung. I walk into the village, leaving Clarence leaning against the tro-tro, smoking a cigarette. It’s then that I see three men, sitting in the shade of a building. They must be Kikanda because their skin’s almost black and they have scars on their cheeks. I expected tribal costume but in fact only one of them wears a loincloth. The others wear dirty shorts. The youngest of them wears a Burger King baseball hat and nurses a machete. Surprisingly, they’re all overweight. On the
spiny plant, prostrate beneath our feet; here and there it’s struggled to produce a dirty pink flower. Maybe this is kar; Jeremy said it was a sort of cactus. I don’t care. We cross a gap in the trees. Clarence’s breath is hoarse behind me. There’s a depression in the dust which, for a moment, I mistake for an elephant’s footprint. I long to see a sign – a print, a giant heap of dung. It’s hard to believe the elephants exist. Harder still to believe in my own former existence – the woman with a
Africans. Clarence stands near me, wheezing. He whispers that he has asthma. My own heart’s pounding and my legs are buckling. ‘Please, madam.’ He touches my arm. ‘Let us leave.’ I stand there, swaying, dizzy with the heat. When someone dies, what happens here? Does their soul merge into the animals or birds? Or does it fly away to join the ancestors in some heavenly hunting-ground, leaving their loved ones to smear themselves with ash? ‘I’m a Christian,’ says Clarence. Oh! I’d been speaking