'Masked' is Pat Laurie's first novel with Scott Martin Productions/Words are Life.
it is a brilliant and insightful tale of love, nursing and family issues.
“The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.’ Blaise Pascal.
In my novel, ‘Masked’, which is not autobiographical, but which has certain elements of my own experiences, I have tried to explore the often equivocal and ambiguous nature of relationships within and outside family, friends and even within our very selves. We are the wearers and bearers of many masks. We lie, we pose, and we present to others what we imagine they wish to see in us.
To an extent we are moulded and masked by others, by circumstances beyond out control and by societal and others’ expectations. Very early in life we may start to internalise distortions of our, as if were, ‘purer’ selves. We begin to be estranged by these masks from our own potential Being. Appearance mattered!
The nursing profession at the time the novel is set shows, I hope, the rigid hierarchical structure, with its military heritage, albeit admirable in some ways, and its robotic unquestioning ‘teamwork’.
To strip away the mask(s) needed courage and strength, particularly concerning love outside the, then, marital norm, sexual desire outside that same set of values, that ‘norm’ (what the hell is that?). It took insight, self respect and determination. It still does.
Extract from 'Masked'
"She’d looked at him and her little, too-serious face had suddenly smiled brilliantly."
Paddy Brice saw them scurrying past his joiner’s shop. He’d always felt sorry for Gillian Owen. Married to that creep. Shouldn’t speak ill of the dead but by God it was a temptation.
Paddy had been a drinking acquaintance of Alf Owen’s in the days before Owen went to the bad with his gambling - and worse. The scandal only confirmed what he’d suspected all along.
Owen’s pharmaceutical chemist’s shop in the High Street had once been a going concern and had passed from the father to his son Alf. He’d considered himself as fount of all medical wisdom, including much of the unorthodox variety, specialising in “Female Ailments”.
Women had always consulted him behind the thick, beveled windows and Winchesters containing water coloured pink, green and a particularly virulent looking purple.
Paddy never liked the way Owen had appeared too concerned about young girls, hardly pubescent, making crude sexual remarks about budding breasts and pudenda. Well, it had all come out in the end. Owen had gone too far with his treatments and the kid had died, bleeding to death in the stockroom above the pharmacy. Full of drugs she’d been and when they hadn’t worked the bastard had carried out some sort of operation to abort the foetus.
The police had discovered other things as well. Porno photos of that girl and many others. That bloody dark room had probably covered a lot of action. Best of it, for all Owen’s lewd character he had been amazingly prudish where his wife was concerned. Wouldn’t hear a word against her if it was anything mildly prurient. Once knocked a man’s ale off the bar for remarking that Alf’s wife looked more like his daughter except for her well-developed bosom.
Odd character Alf Owen. Then tops himself leaving his wife, daughter and a load of debts. Paddy wondered how Gillian was coping. Not too well by the look of her.
It was true that Gillian did look like a schoolgirl although she must be thirty-something. Very small with a heart-shaped face and soft, grey eyes. She had a slight squint which only added to her air of vulnerability.
Paddy remembered seeing her at one of the children’s concerts some years ago. It was the only time she had been dressed decently, in a sort of green suede suit with a low neckline. A sweetheart neckline he thought they were called. Something about the shape of her. He grew tumescent at the thought then checked himself. She’d looked at him and her little, too-serious face had suddenly smiled brilliantly. She’d commented about the progress their girls were making in the dancing class. He’d stuttered and stammered like a fool.
He watched mother and daughter progress to their front gate. The gate had to be lifted. It appeared to be broken off its hinges. The whole place seemed to be in a state of disrepair. A barge board looked precarious. The house was a lovely 1930s detached villa but was becoming dilapidated. His fingers itched to start work, wrenching out deadwood and laying down sound timber.
Paddy sighed and turned back to his present work, turning the wood lovingly and carefully in his large, capable hands.