Excerpt: The Lost and Found Life of Rosy Bennett by Jan Birley

Rosy Bennett

I’m very pleased to be able to share an extract from The Lost and Found Life of Rosy Bennett with you today. It was published by Acorn in November 2015. You’ll find details about the book and can find out more about the author below

About the book

Rosy loved her London life – her job in a designer shop, her gorgeous West London family house and of course her gorgeous family (although young sons are enough to test anyone at times). All that disappears when, one unremarkable morning, after one unremarkable school run, her husband collapses on a crowded tube carriage and dies. As she struggles her way through the grief, she discovers her husband’s secret life: secrets accounts, secret deals that their solicitor knew nothing of, secret debts and what looks like a secret “very close friend” at least.

Totally unprepared and suddenly in debt, Rosy is forced to leave London to start a new life with her incredibly reluctant boys in the countryside. Can angsty urban teenagers cope with farm life, let alone enjoy it? More to the point, can their mother? It’s certainly not going to be easy but when you are at rock bottom the only way is up.


Chapter Three – Mid December
She wasn’t able to sleep, eyes sore and wide open, mind whirling with images of everything from her last day with Simon to being a child and sitting on her mother’s lap. How she wished she could have that right now – the blissful certainty of a child that a mother could make everything better. She was completely and utterly emotionally wiped out. Her head seemed to have grown to a six-foot washing machine drum, crazily spinning with countless mismatched thoughts, sliding into one another like jumbled socks. She eyed the pack of paracetamol on the bedside table and thought how easy it would be. And then chided herself, remembering the boys. At least there was some trace of sanity left, she thought ruefully. But I am so tired. So tired of grief, of worry. She tossed in the bed. The projector clock on the ceiling moved with reluctance. The last time she had checked, it was 4:30a.m. and when she did finally drop off, her dreams were of debts and huge, greedy bank managers. She was up at 7:00a.m. With gritty eyes, she got out cereal bowls and put bread in the toaster.
It was a windy late autumn day, chilly with a sun playing hide and seek. She turned the corner of the road to Richard’s office, her feet tapping nervously along the pavement, hands unknowingly clenched. Up the stairs and back in his office, she looked at the mounds of paper still stacked on his desk – nothing seemed to have moved. Richard got up, arm outstretched and they shook hands. 
‘Good to see you. Thank you for coming. Not a bad day for December,’ he said in a voice that, to her, rang with tension. Sitting down he shuffled awkwardly in the chair. 
‘Rosy, there’s no easy way to say this.’
Her heart plunged. She looked at him steadily whilst clasping her hands together very tightly on her lap. The whites of her knuckles shone through, she noted. It was the kind of detail logged in women’s magazine stories, she thought. 
Richard spoke. ‘To get straight to the point, it seems that in err…’ he looked down at his papers, ‘… in July this year, Simon bought an alpaca farm in Dorset, near Blandford Forum – Prior’s Gate Farm in a village called Kirmington Abbas.’
Rosy sat stunned. His love of surprises meant he had been known to keep things from her, small things, but this was in a different league. For some reason, she suddenly vividly remembered being in this office with Simon when they had made their wills. How he had taken her hand, looked at her and grinned, saying that with the amount of wine she drank, she’d be dead long before him. Still stunned, she brushed an imaginary bit of fluff from her skirt. A door in the outer office opened and closed. There was complete silence.
‘A what?’ she whispered.
‘A farm, a farm of twenty acres, so nothing too big,’ he said almost apologetically, as if it was his fault. ‘But including a farmhouse with six bedrooms, a range of outbuildings and a barn. And alpacas.’
‘Why would he?’ she breathed. And then, a few moments later, ‘Aren’t alpacas llamas‘I believe so,’ he looked at her over the top of his glasses. ‘The situation is that to enable him to do this, he sold everything – his portfolio of stocks and shares, and he used those funds as a deposit on the property.’
She hurriedly interrupted. ‘Everything? What? Are you saying there’s nothing left?’
‘Not that I’m aware of. There may be a little in an account I haven’t as yet found. Do you know of any other accounts Simon might have had?’
She shook her head, not trusting herself to speak. Feeling giddy, and then being cross with herself for being so tiresomely weak, she gripped the side of the chair and leaned forward. ‘Alpacas, are you sure?’
He nodded. ‘Yes, quite sure. And to continue, I know this is very hard for you, I can hardly believe it myself, but having had detailed conversations with this bank yesterday and seeing all the documentation that they have emailed over to me, it seems that Simon paid well over a million for the property and livestock, and to do this took out a mortgage of over £900,000.’
The numbers floated around Rosy’s ears; she heard them but wasn’t able to take them in.
‘Although the property is not mentioned in Simon’s will, as his wife you inherit it and also, unfortunately, its funding. There was no insurance to back up this sum. As you are probably aware when you take out a mortgage, building insurance is mandatory but it is not necessary to take out any other type of insurance.’
‘But how was he going to pay it back? The monthly payments? We didn’t – don’t – have that kind of income?’ She bit her bottom lip. 
He shook his head, ‘I don’t know. He did make three payments, for August, September and October. There is one other thing I feel I must tell you.’
Rosy closed her eyes. ‘What?’ she said bleakly.
‘Simon, when applying for this mortgage was, how shall I put it, economical with the truth. The bank is not happy.’
‘What do you mean?’

Where to buy the book



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About the Author

Jan Birley

So – all about me ………

I went to live in London when I was 17. Pretty young really, amazing that my parents let me go – after six years at a draughty boarding school in Yorkshire, my knowledge of life was hardly encyclopaedic. Mind you, whose is at 17? Initially, I trained as a radiographer but didn’t like it much and dabbled in other worlds where I couldn’t find anything I really wanted to do. Apart from sit and read a book, of course. Nanny? Nope. Not after attempting to look after two hideous children who only spoke Dutch. Cooking in a restaurant in Cornwall? Not really my thing, especially as my role seemed to consist of doing the washing up. So back to London where I spent many years in Wandsworth, getting married and having three fabulous sons, two of whom are twins. Now I live in Dorset, but am unwilling to give up totally on city life and so I still go back there to work at LSE one day a week. I’m a dyslexia support tutor. I also work at a local girls’ school and because of the lovely, long holidays I’m able to spend a good part of the year with all my boys at our holiday home in Italy. Along with our elderly dog, we relish the time we’re able to spend in la bella Umbria. My husband is the Deputy Mayor of our town here in Dorset which keeps him busy.

I’ve recently published, on line, my first novel with the second one to follow shortly. The third one is still in the process of being written. All of them are stand-alone books. Although I’ve been writing for many years, it never seemed a possible financial option as a career but belatedly I’ve realised that if I don’t pursue my dream right now, that’s all it will ever be. The result is The Lost and Found Life of Rosy Bennett.

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