Today I have an extract for you for the novel The Many Colours of Us by Rachel Burton.
What if your life was built on lies?
Julia Simmonds had never been bothered about not knowing who her father was. Having temperamental supermodel, Philadelphia Simmonds, as a mother was more than enough. Until she discovers she’s the secret love-child of the late, great artist Bruce Baldwin, and her life changes forever.
Uncovering the secrets of a man she never knew, Julia discovers that Bruce had written her one letter, every year until her eighteenth birthday, urging his daughter to learn from his mistakes. As Julia begins to dig deeper into the mysterious past of her parents, opening up a history she’d never have imagined, but as she discovers the truth she needs to decide if she is willing to forgive and forget?
He’s waiting for me when I get to the Tate Modern, I’m the one who’s late for once. I was so wrapped up in more clothes designs that I missed the tube stop and I’ve had to run across from St Paul’s. It’s still extremely hot and I’m aware that I’m very sweaty.
“What are we doing here?” I ask, as I catch my breath.
“There’s something I want to show you,” he says. “Come on.”
He leads me into the building and we turn immediately right, leaving the giant spider sculpture behind us. I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never been further than that before. A love of modern art clearly didn’t come down through the gene pool.
We walk through room after room of paintings, sculptures and installations some of which, quite frankly, are bizarre. The huge collection of dismembered dolls is particularly creepy. I stop to look at it, but Edwin insists we keep moving. He’s walking very fast with his back to me.
At the end of the corridor, we come into a room that is slightly more dimly lit than the others. Edwin stops suddenly in the doorway. I peer around him to look inside. The paintings in here are softer than some of the others we’ve passed, most of them painted in a palette of reds and browns and greens; what my mother would call “cool Autumn”.
“These are the paintings that made up your father’s final exhibition,” Edwin says. “The Tate dedicated this room to him when he died. Some of the work was bought at the exhibition, but those paintings that aren’t privately owned are here.”
This must be the exhibition Graeme was talking about. The one called Lost Daughters. Slowly I start to walk around the room. The paintings are huge, some of them floor to ceiling, most of them much bigger than any of the ones I’ve seen at the studio, much bigger than the ones we’re hoping to display when we open the Art Salon. They are very abstract, acrylic on canvas, which Frank has told me was my father’s favourite medium, and I’m not sure I understand them at all. But as I walk around and read the labels underneath each piece of art I start to get a sense of who my father was. It’s nothing solid, just a feeling, like a wisp of smoke just at the edge of my vision, but it’s a start. I try to remember what Graeme said about this exhibition; paintings of children on their own, ignored children, lonely children. Graeme had described it as haunting, but to me it has a more familiar feeling than that. As though I’ve been here before, even though I know I haven’t.
When I’ve done a full circuit, I go and sit with Edwin on a bench in the middle of the room. For a moment, we sit in silence.
Rachel Burton has been making up stories since she first learned to talk, prodigiously early. In 2013 she finally started making one up that was worth writing down.
She has a BA in Classics and an MA in English and has never really known what to do when she grew up. She has worked as a waitress, a legal secretary, a yoga teacher and a paralegal. She never quite made it to law school.
She grew up in Cambridge and London but now lives in Leeds with her boyfriend and three cats. The main loves of her life are The Beatles and very tall romantic heroes.
You can purchase The Many Colours of Us here on Amazon UK.
Thanks for reading
The Stationery Geekette x