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Excerpt from Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Five Tuesdays in Winter

by Lily King

Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King X
Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2021, 240 pages

    Nov 2022, 256 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster
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The summer I was fourteen, a few months after my mother had moved us out of my father's house, I was offered a job on Widows' Point babysitting this old lady's grandchildren who had come to visit for two weeks. Mrs. Pike got her dresses fitted at my mother's shop and the two of them made these arrangements without consulting me. It wasn't like my other babysitting jobs, a few hours at a time. I had to live there. I can't remember the conversation with my mother, if I'd wanted to go or if I'd put up a fight. I fought her on so many things back then.

The Point was a frying pan–shaped spit of land that thrust out into the Atlantic. Beyond it, at low tide, you could see a crescent of rocks offshore, but at high tide the water hid them entirely. No doubt it was those rocks, several hundred years earlier, that made the widows who'd given the Point its name. My father still owned the house I'd grown up in, on the handle of the pan, and to get to the Pikes' from our apartment downtown I had to pass it on my bike. He was in rehab again, in New Hampshire this time, but still I kept my head low as I pedaled by. All I saw was the bed of flowers along the road, untended since last fall, new shoots and buds trying to push through brown husks. This was the third time we'd moved out and I hoped the last.

The road sloped down after that as it began its loop around the Point. An ornate sign announced PRIVATE WAY. High hedges hid most of these fancier houses from sight, giving everything an overgrown, Sleeping Beauty feel. As kids we'd ridden down here despite the warning, scaring ourselves into believing that we'd be put in jail if we got caught, but we never dared go down a driveway. Still, we knew all the pillars, all the plaques with the old names barely legible anymore.

The Pikes' driveway was much longer than I'd thought. There had been a hot sun on my back on the road but now it was cool and dim, huge trees shaking on either side of me. The only other person I had ever known to do such a thing as I was doing now was Maria from The Sound of Music. I couldn't remember the song about courage that she sang as she walked with her guitar from the abbey to the von Trapp mansion, so I sang "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" until a horn blasted behind me and I swerved off the road and down a shallow gully and tumbled softly off my bike onto last year's leaves.

Above me, a man in a black suit and a bow tie called down. "You breathin'?" is what I believe he said. He had an accent. He formed the r with his tongue, not his lower lip.

I told him I was. He did not step down into the gulch of leaves to help me, but he waited until my bike and I were back on the driveway. He had a long face and a perfectly round bald head so that the two together looked like a scoop of ice cream on a cone.

"You come to subdue the kiddies?"

"Yes," I said uncertainly. "I'll meet you below then. Come round the back. To the left. Not the garage side." He made garage rhyme with carriage, the stress on the wrong syllable.

It was only after he had driven off that I noticed the car, its tinny engine and lack of roof and long thin nose of a hood. It was an antique. I heard the horn again, very loud, even at this distance. And nothing like a regular car horn. More like the signal at halftime of a football game. No wonder it had blown me off the road. The word "claxon" came to mind and floated there as I wound down the rest of the driveway. I was halfway through Jane Eyre for summer reading. I figured the word had come from that.

The house came into view. Slowly. The road bent and I saw a section of it then more as I went along until the whole thing was splayed out in front of me. It was a mansion. Gray and white stone with turrets and balconies and other things that jutted or arched or recessed that I had no words for. We'd always guessed it was a mansion because people spoke of it that way, but really all we could picture was a house like our small capes, only much wider and taller. But mansions, I realized, were not made of wood. They were made of rock. There was a great curved procession of steps up to the front door but I remembered about going round the back.

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Excerpted from Five Tuesdays in Winter. © 2021 Lily King. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Grove Press, an imprint of Grove Atlantic, Inc. All rights reserved.

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