Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
I grew up in a well-to-do village in the commuter belt and was bullied for being poor. In my late twenties and thirties I went through a slightly pretentious phase where I put on a posh voice. I was determined to prove myself the only way I knew how: by emulating those who’d looked down upon my childhood self.
Maddie’s council estate is based on somewhere I once lived as a single mum. A colleague’s throwaway comment about people living there being ‘scum, single mums and drug dealers’ happened to me. This person had no idea about my connection to the estate and thought I was joking when I told them I’d lived there. It was when I managed to move to a better house away from my childhood home that I decided to throw off the shackles of the past and to stop being viewed by others according to the place I lived.
Except it didn’t work like that. When I married both my husband and I had good jobs. We managed to buy a lovely and spacious house in a beautiful village and I bristled with pride when people made comments about our property. For once I could flaunt my bricks and mortar. But it was all show.
Years before, a German au pair who worked in an eight-bedroom house with an indoor swimming pool (the curtains in the lounge opened at a press of a button to reveal it), told me that I was lucky to have a loving family, even if we struggled to get by. In contrast, the people she worked for hid behind the façade of their seemingly fabulous life but, according to her, they were the unhappiest family she had ever met.
Decades later I’d become that family. After my divorce, I decided to move closer to my childhood home but I could only afford to buy an ex-council house. There was nothing wrong with the house, although the estate had a historic and undeserved poor reputation in the village.
When one of my son’s new friends told him that they couldn’t be seen playing with each other as my son ‘lived in a council house’ I realised the past is never far away. Even though we’d moved from a house twice the size of this woman’s and her son was more likely to lead mine astray than the other way around, her attitude was based on the property and not the person.
Memories of being told to stand outside a garden gate because I wasn’t allowed inside a friend’s house came flooding back. I was furious with this woman for ingraining in her children the same terrible attitude that had been instilled in many of my peer group years before.
I didn’t tackle this woman or her attitude. Whatever I said would have been twisted to prove her point. Looking back at her and the parents of my school friends, I simply cannot understand why people who had so much would slam the door on people who had so little.
Instead, I used their comments as material for a book in which I have tried to show a truer picture of the many people who happen to live in social housing while striving to do their best for their families. It’s not about idolising social housing. Of course, not everyone is a good parent – but that’s the case in all households no matter the wealth. It’s just that money and a huge front garden masks unhappiness more than a window, abutting a pavement, through which an argument filters and a dog-eared sofa can be seen.
Houses don’t make people. A good environment helps, but a loving and strong family makes the real difference to a child, no matter where they live. Maddie’s not perfect. She’s made mistakes but she’s trying her best. It would be lovely if those further up the ladder could lend a hand, rather than a foot to hold people back.
Thank you so much for writing this guest post, Sharley, I know exactly what you mean! I taught for more that thirty years in a village primary school with the complete cross section of pupil backgrounds and agree that it isn’t the background of the child but their relationships and experiences that are so often the key. I learned very early on not to judge children or their parents by their address but by their behaviour and attitude.
Here’s information about ‘The Two Lives Of Maddie Meadows’:
Maddie Meadows adores her family and loves her work. But she has good reason to keep them separate.
For single mum Maddie, home is a flat on a run-down estate. And family consists of an excitable toddler, a lonely Dad and a younger brother mired in a love triangle.
Meanwhile, professional Madeleine balances a tricky day job, made worse by a jealous colleague. No one at work knows about her other life, and she needs to keep it this way: one of the bosses has made his feelings very clear about single parents and the people on her estate.
Thank goodness for her fun-loving and loyal friends – although Maddie wishes they’d believe her when she insists she has no time for love. Or so she tells herself as she fights to quell her hidden feelings for her gorgeous colleague, Oliver, who comes from the posh part of town.
When her friends line up their ideal man for her – Sean, more beanstalk than Bean – Maddie wishes she’d told them the truth. It’s hard enough juggling two lives. But, with all the added complications, how long will be it be before Maddie’s carefully created world comes crashing down?
Author Bio –
Sharley Scott is the author of the ‘Devon Seaside Guesthouse’ novels, both of which I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed (click on the title to read my review of them!)
Her latest book ‘The Two Lives of Maddie Meadows’ is being published in early July 2020. The second in the series ‘The Gift of a Rose’ will be available in the autumn.
Sharley is a guesthouse owner in South Devon. She is thankful to have been blessed with lots of amazing and kind-hearted guests, who are nothing like some of the characters featured in the Devon Seaside Guesthouse series.
The Two Lives of Maddie Meadows is a fictional account, but Sharley has never forgotten how interesting life can be with a toddler. Some of the mischief Josh gets up to will be familiar to all parents. Sharley has carried out the threats she made to her son decades ago and now embarrasses him by telling tales to his girlfriend, although he gets her back by recounting stories about his mum.
Social Media Links –
Sharley can be found on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/SharleyScott3/
Or follow Sharley on Twitter: @SharleyScott
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