Authors: Rowan Coleman
Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes, Dorothy Koomson and Liane Moriarty, this is an uplifting and heartfelt novel from the author of
The Memory Book
, which was featured in the Richard & Judy book club 2014
Jenny, Rosie and Selin have been best friends since school. Their teenage years were spent drinking too much wine in the park, dressing up for Friday night, and making the wrong choices with the wrong men because tomorrow seemed a very long way off.
Eleven riotous years later, Jenny realises something. After more than a decade of waiting for her real life to begin, nothing has really changed. Here she is, still hung-over in the park, still dressed up in Friday night clothes and about to make her most inappropriate choice of man yet.
But Jenny’s not the only one waiting for real life to begin. And when tragedy turns their world upside down, all three friends are forced to realise that the real growing up is still to come ...
Rowan Coleman is thirty and lives in London with her husband and baby daughter. In 2000 she won
magazine Young Writer of the Year Competition.
Growing Up Twice
is her first novel.
Growing Up Twice
is a fresh, warm and hugely enjoyable read. Focusing on three twenty-something female friends who, after various romantic entanglements, falling outs and a heartbreaking tragedy, realise they haven’t even begun to grow up, Rowan’s first novel is truly brilliant. Her captivating style leaps off the page, engrossing you from the first sentence’
For Erol and Lily with all my love.
‘Listen. I need you to be honest now. Have I gone cross-eyed? I have the strangest sensation that my eyes are no longer operating in tandem.’
We are sitting in Soho Square and it is the last Saturday morning in August. We spent last night club hopping and then drinking coffee in a twenty-four-hour café just off Charing Cross Road.
I am with Rosie and Selin. We have all known each other since primary school and have been best friends since we swapped our ‘first kiss’ stories, real and imagined, drinking mugs of Cinzano Bianco. That was fourteen years ago at a sleepover at Rosie’s house. About eight months ago another chapter opened in our friendship when we found ourselves simultaneously single for the first time in ten years. The last time we hung out so much we were drinking Lambrusco on the swings at our local park and singing Meat Loaf’s ‘Dead Ringer for Love’ to any passing likely-looking lads.
‘Look at me. No, look
me,’ I say to Rosie, wondering if maybe she really has lost the ability to focus. ‘They’re fine really; a bit red round the edges but definitely working in unison.’ A look of total horror passes over Rosie’s face and she dives for her bag to fish out her make-up. I smile to myself, I knew she wouldn’t be able to live with red-rimmed eyes.
‘I swear to God, it’s that Red Bull that does it, it’s evil. We should write to
,’ she says, as she sets a complete pocket-sized cleansing, toning and moisturising regime out on the grass in neat little Chanel packages.
‘I think it was the coffees,
let’s never have coffee again
, it’s poison,’ Selin says, lifting her hand in front of her face to cast a shadow over her eyes. ‘Look! Look at me, I’ve got the DTs!’
I take her hand in mine and examine it. ‘It’s fine,’ I say. ‘God, you two are
paranoid.’ And I flop back on to the grass, arms outstretched, waiting for the warmth of the sun to find me. Selin lies on her front, propped up on her elbows and Rosie, looking for all the world like Doris Day on a picnic, packs away her used cotton-wool balls in the plastic freezer bag she carries for just such an occasion. She begins to apply her foundation with one of those funny little triangle-shaped sponges. The square starts to fill as the sun climbs and draws last night’s casualties out of the shadows.
We are secretly waiting for pub opening time and hair of the dog, pretending we are going to look at a photographic exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. We all agreed last night that we would definitely go today, as we have been meaning to go for the last four weeks and it closes this weekend. We all know we are lying.
One other fine morning just like this one Rosie decided that Soho Square is the last place left in London where fresh clean air is stacked in cubic feet right up to heaven. We often spend this part of Saturday right here, breathing and gossiping. Recuperating from the high jinks of the previous night.
This fine morning the air has only just become warm, the dew is beginning to disappear and we turn our faces to the sun like the cottage-garden flowers that border the square.
‘This is not good. We have to face it. We are old. We can’t do this any more.’ Selin sits up, pulling her fingers through her long and curly midnight hair and shades her eyes from the sun. ‘Look at those nu-metal kids over there. They probably think we’re on an OAP outing. I should have a mortgage by now and a car. In fact, I should
have a car by now and
be sitting in a park surrounded by teenagers recovering from a hangover. I should be having a
, in a bed bought from Habitat, reading the
Independent on Sunday
and, and I should have a husband – who looks like the bloke from the Gillette ad – squeezing me fresh orange juice in my fitted kitchen.’ She laughs while she makes her demands to the heavens.
‘What do you want a car for in London?’ I ask, ignoring all the other stuff of distant dreams.
a car.’ She slams both palms down on the grass making Rosie jump a little bit so that her eyeliner goes wonky. She scowls at Selin, Selin ignores her. ‘I just
have one. The option to have a car should be open to me.’
‘You can’t even drive!’ I think I know where she is coming from but I’m having trouble with her analogy.
‘I’m just saying that I’m thirty in nine months’ time and I haven’t got a car. And I had planned to have a car by now, a red one.’
‘Look, I’m thirty
before either of you two and anyway,’ I say, ‘when we were fifteen we all thought we’d be married by now and have a house, a proper career and two children and do that every day until we died. But we’re not at that stage yet. Life is still beginning, and it’s fantastic. So let’s enjoy the good times while they last.’
‘Yes,’ Rosie contributes, ‘and I’ve already been married, so I know it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Apart from the dressing up, the dressing up was fantastic. And the presents, of course. Oh, and do you remember the hen night? Now
was good.’ Rosie blots her lipstick. Her marriage lasted six months and it was a pretty dreadful six months. Still, she did look great in that wedding dress.
Selin sighs in that way she does when she feels Rosie and I don’t take life seriously enough.
‘Mmm, well it’s the “still” bit that worries me,’ she says. ‘What if life is “still” beginning for us when we’re eighty and getting our kicks on a Stannah stairlift? Or worse, the three of us have had to sell our houses – assuming we ever earn enough cash to buy our own houses, that is – to keep us in an old people’s home and we look at each other and say, “What have we done with our lives?”’
‘Selin, I think you are deliberately choosing to be negative,’ I say. ‘Remember your positive affirmations – “I smile, the world smiles with me.”’
‘I smile, I get some more wrinkles,’ she says but she is smiling all the same.
‘And let’s face it, you can’t afford any more of those!’ Rosie throws in, ducking to avoid the balled-up crisp packet that Selin aims at her head. ‘Anyway, we had a good time last night, didn’t we? There’s life in the old dogs yet.’ And she checks her eyeliner again before lying back on the grass, shading her eyes with the back of her hand. If the last few months have been anything to go by Rosie will keep looking on the bright side until the hangover fully sets in, an eventuality she will doggedly postpone until the early hours of Monday morning.
can call yourself “old” and “dog” in the same sentence, lady, but leave me out of it,’ I say and suddenly we’re laughing in the still-sparkling grass; the weak delicious unpreventable sort of laughter left over from too much vodka and a very old friendship.
‘Whoa there.’ Rosie clambers to her feet a little unsteadily. ‘I can’t handle this witty banter any more. Let’s go and have a Bloody Mary, I feel a bit queasy and I need something to settle my stomach.’
‘Yeah, come on, kill or cure.’ Selin stands to join her, catches my eye and a ‘someone had better look after her’ look of understanding passes between us. Their shadows fall across me and make me cold.
‘You know, girls, I’m gonna stay here for a little bit and chill. I’ll catch you up,’ I say, feeling the goose bumps rise on my forearms. I just can’t face the smoke and smell of a pub right now.
‘Hang on, not at the pub for the first BM? You’re not breaking ranks, are you?’ Rosie challenges me.
‘No, I just like it here. I’m going to stay for a while and get it together and I’ll be along in a little while, OK?’