Third Slide

The Walnut Tree is a gritty family saga

Ambitious, young, ‘would-be’ journalist Carrie Langford’s boring, sterile, life is turned upside down by a chance encounter with a stuttering young farmer and his father, ‘staring’ old man Wilson. Tortured by the guilt that is daily forced upon her by her troubled mother, Carrie longs to be loved, longs to be free.

Quotes from the book…

Step into the Darkness

You must be prepared to step into the darkness if you want to live in the light."

Only Beginnings

'There are no ends, only beginnings.'

It Scares Me

'There are no words for what this is…and it scares me. I’m in the middle…what will be the end?'

Something Good Always Comes from Bad

‘It just goes to show…that something good always comes from something bad, one way or another, even if we can’t see it at the time.’

Black Stilettos

'...her black stiletto shoes came close to the right expression as she pointed them in his direction and marched down the road towards him.'

Copper Horizon And A Sad Song

‘Morning came, bringing with it a copper horizon and a sad song.’

Women's Land Army

'i'm going to get my hands dirty, and find out if working the land is 'a healthy, happy, job!'

Christmas

'Christmas is a very difficult time of year for a lot of people.'

Samples from the book

Below are some snippets from the book. Hope you enjoy them! 

Christmas Approaches – Friday 22nd December 1978

Dear Reader, Christmas comes early down on the farm. It has to so that the rest of us can enjoy our Christmas dinner. December marks the beginning of winter. The days are short; there is wind, rain, snow, dark and cold. It’s miserable! No wonder the ancient Anglo Saxons lit a yule log at the start of ‘Yule Monath’, their name for the tenth Roman month of December, to cheer themselves up. We do the same with pretty lights, carols, cards, Christmas shopping, brightly coloured wrapping paper and ribbons for our presents, and decorating our houses. Down on the farm, the winter jobs take all day. There is a continuous cold, dark, slog of feeding animals, bedding animals and mucking out, over and over again. And there is still the extra work of preparing for Christmas; instead of Christmas shopping there’s plucking turkeys or cockerels; instead of wrapping presents there’s dressing (and I don’t mean in party clothes) turkeys or cockerels; instead of ribbons for our presents there’s string to tie together the naked, goose bumpy legs of turkeys or cockerels; instead of pretty lights there’s just one old, dust covered, light bulb to shine in every turkey or cockerel’s eye as it’s turned upside down and sent to heaven by the hands of the farmer. I’d never seen it done before; I didn’t realise how difficult it is to break a neck, even one as small as a cockerel neck. The farmer has to be strong, and quick, and kind. I had to be strong, not because I was upset at the sight of death, although at times it was grim if the farmer got it wrong and pulled the bird’s head off by mistake, or worse, if the bird wouldn’t die no matter how far he stretched its neck. No, I had to be strong to hold the bird upside down by the legs while it flapped its way up to heaven. I have heard stories of the nervous reflex action of birds being so strong that headless, they could still run around. After what I’ve seen, I believe the old ‘headless chicken’ joke could easily be true. Read on, you still want your Christmas dinner, don’t you? Our snow has just melted, for the time being, but there are white feathers a plenty to create the perfect ‘Farmyard at Christmas’ picture postcard scene. I didn’t realise how difficult it was to pluck the feathers from a bird. Dunking them in scalding hot water for however many seconds so that the skin doesn’t burn didn’t seem to help me much, either. Wet or dry, the feathers are greasy, often caked in poo, and well and truly stuck beneath the skin of their owner; they weren’t designed to fall out easily for our convenience. My fingers are still bright red, raw and sore from endless dunks in the boiling water and stabs from pulling on dandruff ridden, stinking, feathers. There was no point trying to sweep them up; the darned things got everywhere. They looked pretty and charming from a distance, blowing around the farmyard beneath the crystal glow of moonlight, stars and yard lamp. But close up, they were a mush of pale brown chicken poo, chicken dandruff, and the still warm, feathery smell, of fresh death. The smell of raw death was everywhere. There were dead cockerels on the table in the farmhouse pantry; dead cockerels hanging up in the outhouse next to the farmhouse kitchen back door; dead cockerels hanging up in some of the cowsheds. The cows had to wander and weave underneath them to get to their stalls at milking time; it was a festive decoration of sorts for the cows which could never be surpassed by the beauty and intricacy of the spiders’ cobwebs and decades of dust that turned the cowsheds into a Christmas snowy wonderland all year round. Decorating the farmhouse with tinsel and baubles will have to wait until much later. Read on, you still want your Christmas dinner, don’t you? Dressing up for Christmas parties would also have to wait; the cockerels needed dressing first. You may well agree with me, reader, that dressing up for a Christmas party can be difficult. What shall we wear? Have we got enough make up on? Shall we put our hair up or down? I have to tell you that dressing a cockerel is far more difficult! We may find that some of the company or some of the food at our Christmas party makes us feel sick, but I promise you that it is nothing compared to the smell and texture of putting your hand inside a cockerel’s bum and pulling its insides outside and watching them plop into a bucket at your feet. Why this act is called ‘dressing’ I cannot understand. The smell made me heave until I was just about sick! Read on, you still want your Christmas dinner, don’t you? Don’t fret, your Christmas dinner is almost ready. The cockerel’s legs are tied together with string. It’s not much of a party game, but there’s quite a skill to getting it just right so that the legs look even and the breast is plumped up in all the right places, a bit like choosing the correct underwear for your Christmas party outfit. And after all of that, there’s entertaining to be done, as customers call to collect their Christmas dinners; the farmer sees his profits disappear in endless cups of tea and glasses of sherry. It’s Christmas, after all! A lot of ancient December customs have been swallowed up by Christmas. ‘The Lord of Misrule’, 17th December, in ancient Roman times, was the beginning of the festival of ‘Saturnalia’, in honour of the God of agriculture. This was a week-long orgy of feasting and merrymaking. It was a holiday time for all slaves who
were waited on by their masters. Presents were exchanged, informal clothes were worn and gambling games were allowed. It sounds just like Christmas, doesn’t it, although perhaps parents, especially mothers, might disagree about it being a holiday time for slaves! A ‘master of the revels’ was appointed to organise the goings on. This character was called the ‘Lord of Misrule’ – every family has at least one of these, every Christmas. Is it going to be you? December marks the beginning of winter. The days are short; there is wind, rain, snow, dark and cold. It’s miserable! So why not have lights, warmth and parties? Whether it’s a single light in a cowshed where your Christmas dinner begins, a single star above a stable where a baby boy was born to be a light in the world, or the light and warmth of a simple Anglo Saxon Yule log, we can all celebrate light in the midst of darkness. There is an old saying: ‘Good luck will come to the home where a fire is kept burning throughout the Christmas season.’ So good luck to you and yours! And there is another old saying that I long to be true: ‘On Christmas Eve, all animals can speak. However, it’s bad luck to test this.’ Please don’t test it, just in case. I wonder what the cockerel in the cowshed, or the donkey in the stable, would have to say about Christmas?

Extract from ‘The Walnut Tree’ © Caroline Wedd December 2015 All Rights Reserved

‘Remembrance’ – Old Ab’s Story

Extract from ‘The Walnut Tree’

 

Friday 17th November 1978

 

Dear Reader,

So far down on the farm I have written about cows, calves, sheep (to my cost, please note the disclaimer on page twenty two), pigs, chicks, the toil and sweat of tilling the soil, crops both wild and farmed, fruit and vegetables of all shapes and sizes. There can be nothing more, I hear you say. I have thought so myself at times; maybe this is getting boring for my readers. Just more of the same. But you are wrong. Very wrong, and so was I. For I need to tell you about sacks of corn.

A flat bed lorry is standing in the middle of the farm yard. It delivers sacks of corn to feed the cattle over the coming winter months. The lorry is in a hurry; lots of deliveries to make before the end of the day. The farmer’s sons run to unload their sacks of corn. Each sack is as big and heavy as a full grown man. Time after time their knees take the strain as their backs carry their precious burden into the corn store. They have neither time nor energy for talking, apart from the occasional grunt as the weight of the corn sack connects with their backbone.

They compete silently with both the lorry and each other to see who can unload the most corn sacks, as if their lives depended upon it. Human beings like to win, don’t they? No doubt the children who stuffed the corn sack that became Guy Fawkes on bonfire night battled to see who could stuff the most straw into his belly. Call it a challenge or a battle; we humans like to win, either way.

A very old man stood alongside me in the farmyard, watching the battle of the corn sacks. He stood to attention as best as his ancient, twisted body would allow. I saw tears form in his eyes as he watched the corn sacks fly from lorry to man. The November sun was not in his eyes so I asked him why. It was the eleventh day of the eleventh month; Remembrance Day. The very old man had been a young man once, a soldier, a Private during World War One.

The tears in his eyes that would not flow turned his eye sockets into reservoirs. His eyelids held them fast as I asked him why; they held fast while he told me. He was a strong man. He was dammed up. He was damned to remember. I will tell you now, just as he told me, in his own words, as well as I can remember, about the sacks of corn.

‘I were just a lad when I got called up. Nineteen years old. I was from the town, an ordinary town lad; never been to the country, never seen a gun before in me life! I got sent to Northern Ireland first. It turned out that I were a good shot! The best in my regiment! Any road, I ended up in the Somme. I was made adjutant to my Captain, his servant, like. He were a grand chap. He were well to do, but he was brave and he looked after his men as best he could. He led us over the top and he didn’t get killed, he was one of the few to survive.

Any road, one night we had a really bad night. The Germans opened up an offensive to take our position. They blitzed us! They fired all night – all night – onto our trenches. Me and another bloke had been sent out on a job, reconnoitring, like. We were out on the top, trying to get back to our trenches.

Oh the shells! The shells! The noise! It were terrible! We were stuck on top, and we couldn’t get back! We were surrounded by dead bodies. So we piled them up! We stacked up dead bodies like they was sacks of corn and we stayed under them all night. And in the morning, when it were quiet, we went back to our trenches.

Well! Everybody was dead! Walking down the trenches I saw all the lads I went to school with, even my wife’s first husband. All dead. Only four of us had survived.’

The very old man watched the last sack of corn disappear into the corn store.

‘I’ve got no words to say about it,’ he said, simply.

Neither had I. The farm dog sniffed a welcome at the old man’s black wool trousers. He patted the warm welcome on his warm head.

‘And in the middle of the war, when we were in the middle of the trenches, one day a column of horses towing guns turned up and pulled into a small field at the side of us. My Captain went mad!

‘What are they doing?’ he shouted. ‘They’ll get blasted!’ And they did. An enemy aeroplane flew overhead and gave the German guns the position of the field of horses. Well! What a sight! You’ve never seen such a sight in your life! We could do nothing but watch. All the horses and men were killed. The noise were terrible. Terrible! I’ll never forget it. The worst thing was the noise. The noise was dreadful.

After the war I did a farming course, run by the Government. Thought I should like to work with horses. I won a bit of money; it were enough to start farming. So I did. I had a little dairy and I made butter. Worked the land the rest of my life.’

The very old man chuckled to himself:

‘When I started farming I weren’t much good at it! I got in all sorts of scrapes! One time I’d reared a bull and had to take it to market. You walked them to market in those days. Well there I was, walking this here bull down through the town to market. He was quiet, like, no trouble. But I forgot he’d got long horns! We walked past a sweet shop and his horns smashed the shop window! Well, I had to pay for the damage, didn’t I!’

The very old man turned to towards me and smiled; the November sun was in his eyes, but still his tears would not flow; only mine could do that. You and I were born free because his tears would not flow. He is a strong man. He doesn’t make a fuss. He has no words to say about it; neither have I. He is damned to remember. We are damned if we forget:

‘They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them…..we will remember them.’

 

† From ‘For the Fallen’ Laurence Binyon, 1914

 

© Caroline Wedd 2015 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday 5th April 1978

Copyright © Caroline Wedd 2015

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

All the characters, names, incidents, and places in this book are entirely fictitious; any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Cover Illustration Copyright © Caroline Wedd 2015

Cover Design Copyright © Peter Hodges 2015

All rights reserved

Published by Caroline Wedd

 

 

Part One: Spring – ‘Beginnings…’

 

Wednesday 5th April 1978

‘You bloody idiot!’

She wasn’t sure if she shouted the words out loud or if they screamed inside her head. It all happened so fast. She’d been following the battered old Land Rover for a good two miles since the railway bridge. She’d nearly reached the old oak tree next to the bend in the road that was her next time check point on her rally drive home from work. At first she’d been pleasantly distracted from her mission by the black and white collie dog that was continuously running from side to side on the front seat of the Land Rover cab. Ears pricked with excitement, tongue panting, he was looking forwards to where he was going.

‘Wonder what it feels like to be that excited about something.’

The wonder soon turned back to irritation as the left indicator flashed at her yet again. The driver had been indicating left since the railway bridge as well, but there was nowhere ‘left’ to go.

‘Why am I surrounded by people who can’t get moving?’

She knew she spent far too much time talking in her head instead of out loud, but it saved a lot of time that way. She was about to run through the list of people who hadn’t moved fast enough for her today when the Land Rover started to slow down and pulled into the left hand side of the road.

‘Now’s our chance!’ she said to her little red car. The road ahead was straight and clear. For all her rally driving games morning and night, she wasn’t really a chance taker, but this guy had really, really, annoyed her and ruined her best run of the week to date. Like the dog in front, with ears pricked and tongue panting, she put her foot down flat on the accelerator pedal and swung out past her tormentor. What happened next turned her panting to panic. He was turning right! Right into her and not left!

‘You bloody idiot!’

Her only hope was to keep going. Foot still flat down on the accelerator pedal she smashed her way onto the grass verge and hoped for the best. It didn’t quite work.

He hit the back of her car as he turned into the field gateway. She slewed back onto the road and stopped neatly by her favourite oak tree. She sat very still. Her heart was trying to get out from inside her buttoned up raincoat. Apart from this unusual thumping sound inside her coat and her head, all was quiet. Lovely pink and white flowers swayed gently by the side of the road, the only witnesses to her failed daring do.

‘Get out of the car!’

The voice in her head sounded a bit different, but she knew it was hers. She got out of the car. She walked round to the back of it to see her bumper hanging on, or was it off, by a thread. One wheel arch was also buckled. Also buckled was her raincoat belt. Confident that her thumping heart couldn’t escape its tight grip she turned to look at the man with the happy dog and the dodgy vehicle.

He’d got out of his Land Rover and was standing, still as a statue, behind it. She couldn’t find any words in her head to describe how angry she felt at that moment, but her black stiletto shoes came close to the right expression as she pointed them in his direction and marched down the road towards him.

‘How dare he stand still!’ she hissed.

How dare he do otherwise than put a piece of metal Land Rover between himself and the formidable looking young woman who was swishing towards him at great speed in a very organised raincoat; only the soft, bouncing movement of her long, golden, hair as she charged towards him gave him hope that this tightly buttoned creature was not entirely made of metal also.

‘What the hell do you think you’re playing at?’

Her voice didn’t sound like her own. She had to work hard to pull it back down to something resembling a normal, low, controlled pitch, instead of the high shriek that had just squeaked out of her dry mouth.

‘You’ve been indicating left for over two miles and then you go and turn right. Right into my car!’

‘Are y..you all r..right?’ he said.

‘Of course I’m all right!’ she snapped. ‘But look at my car – what are you going to do about that?’

‘You’ll h..have to t..talk t..to me d..dad up at the f..farm,’ he said.

This made her even madder than before. No apology, no acknowledgement of fault, and he can’t even deal with it himself. Got to run to his dad – at his age! He didn’t even have the guts to speak clearly. She pressed her hands onto the hot Land Rover, in mirror image of two big, brown, muscular hands. He was young, but probably older than her. He was very tall. He was unshaven, swarthy either in complexion or from dirt, she couldn’t tell which. And he had the most amazing shock of long, unkempt, curly dark hair that she’d ever seen on a man.

‘Where’s the farm, then?’

‘J..Just over there.’

He turned and pointed to the red brick farmhouse that stood back from the road just past where all the trouble began.

‘What’s your name? How do I know you’re telling the truth?’ she asked in as legal a voice as possible.

‘Speak to me d..dad. Our name is W..Wilson.’

 

――――♦――――

 

Carrie was two faced. At the ripe old age of twenty two she ran straight home to her dad, too. ‘Ah, but,’ she reasoned to herself as she finished the last ten miles of her journey home a bit more sedately than the first ten, fearing the loss of parts of her car along the way, ‘my dad is a garage man. I’m only doing what any customer would do when they needed help.’

This was true, but, nevertheless, she melted inside at the sight of her dad’s ever round, smiling face, and was much comforted by the familiar smell of his oily overalls. As a little girl she’d spent hours playing around the edges of her dad’s workshop, collecting iron filings with a big magnet, running her fingers through any oil and grease that she could find – how she loved getting dirty back then. Walking onto the cool concrete floor of the workshop now, she felt a sudden stab of regret that her own life had become so far removed from what she considered to be a real life. There was no hot and cold, dirt, fumes, or anything to really grab a hold of in her life at the office – and even less at home.

‘That’s not a big job, love.’

Dad smiled.

‘Thanks Bill,’ said Carrie.

She always called him by his name at the garage; everyone else there called him Bill and she’d copied them for as long as she could remember. Carrie was so proud of her dad. He was kind to everyone, always. She didn’t know how he managed to do his job sometimes as he’d lost all the fingers on his left hand in a motorbike accident. Even now she couldn’t help staring at his hand whenever she saw him. The skin on his fingerless knuckles stretched soft and white around them. The flat, square, ends of his knuckles looked like they’d never had fingers at all. There were no seams or scars. The imperfect was perfect, just like their owner. Carrie had spent so much time in her head imagining what it must be like to have a hand like that. She spent so much time imagining in her head about everything.

‘It’s why I’m not progressing very well at the office,’ she excused herself. ‘I’m not interested in facts and figures.’

Living in her head had always been a protection from her life at home dictated by mother, and now also, to make up for the lack of ‘real’ things in her life right now. Carrie felt such a longing in her soul that it made her feel sick with pain sometimes.

‘Go and see the farmer tomorrow,’ said Dad as he ran his half hand along the car bumper.

She remembered the happy dog.

‘I want to be a happy dog,’ she thought.

Her dad brought her back to the uncomfortable reality of sorting out her car and the insurance. She was also mindful of the fact that it was really her own sheer recklessness that had caused the prang, and she knew that her dad knew that, but was too kind to say so.

‘But how can I trust him? You know what farmers are like!’

This was just something to say to cover her embarrassment. She didn’t know what farmers were like, only the farmers’ sons at school, and she didn’t have anything to do with silly boys in those days. She still didn’t.

‘You must go and sort it out. Look him in the eye. You’ll be alright.’

 

 

Thursday 6th April

It was a lovely, warm, sunny day. Carrie wore her tightly fitting, tailored, black pencil skirt, her favourite black stiletto shoes and tightly buckled raincoat again. She didn’t actually need the raincoat, but she felt safe inside these mature female garments; the girl on the inside was kept well out of sight as she parked her car up on some rough gravel in front of a small industrial unit that was to the left of the main drive up to the farmhouse and buildings. She could hear men’s’ voices and singing as she got out of her car.

‘I’ll try here first,’ she decided, knowing full well that it was probably nothing to do with the farmer that she was after.

Stepping into the shed she relaxed immediately – it was a tractor repair workshop and spare parts wholesaler. Dark and oily, calendars of ladies of a certain type. She felt right at home.

‘Hello, is Mr Wilson about?’

‘What do you want with him?’ asked one of the boiler suits behind the counter.

‘I’ve come to see him about my car – his son crashed into it yesterday.’

The boiler suits behind the counter started laughing.

‘What’s so funny?’ asked Carrie, still feeling relaxed in their company.

‘He’s nowt to do with us,’ said boiler suit number one.

‘You’ll have to go up to the farm.’

More laughing. No, it was silly giggling!

‘You’ll do no good with him,’ said boiler suit number two. ‘You be careful, duck, nobody messes with Wilson –he’s mad!’

They stopped giggling.

‘No, seriously, mind how you go with him, love. If he doesn’t like you, you’ll have trouble.’

‘Good luck!’

With kindly smiles the boiler suits disappeared back into the depths of their workshop.

‘Oh great,’ sighed Carrie, ‘just my luck to crash into an oddball!’

Forewarned is forearmed. Carrie pulled her little body up as tall as it would go, took a deep breath, and marched up the dazzlingly white gravel drive to find the mad Mr Wilson. He found her first.He appeared from nowhere. Carrie was having to walk carefully in her lovely black stilettos up the incline of the white gravel drive, that was spotted with large chalky stones and bits of rubble that had been hastily dumped to fill the odd pothole.

Her eyes were looking down towards this dusty white minefield, when her view was obscured by two enormously long legs that landed slap bang in front of her path, in what seemed to be two or three strides, when it seemed like she’d been tottering along the same distance for hours.

‘Mr Wilson?’

Carrie’s voice sounded small. Her eyes travelled up the length of the longest pair of dark blue skinny jeans that she’d ever seen. Her eyes and neck had to keep going up, up, up, past a long, slender, body until they reached the face of mad Mr Wilson. He was staring at her.

‘He must be nearly seven feet tall!’

Carrie felt like a little mouse beneath the gaze of a prize falcon that was about to have his sport with her, before eating her.

‘That’s right.’

‘Look him in the eye! Even the smallest prey can still be brave!’

But what eyes! Was he really mad or did he just look mad? Carrie looked him in the eyes. Or did he command her eyes to go to him? Mr Wilson had the palest, pale blue, eyes that she’d ever seen. They were almost ice white and yet his gaze burned into her like acetylene torch.

He had a skinny long face and a skinny long nose, to balance his skinny long legs. Long, silver and white grey, wavy hair flowed past his shoulders like a King Charles I Cavalier. It was so uniformly wavy that it looked like he plaited it every night before he went to bed. Carrie was good at staring; she’d had plenty of practice, so she stared back at Mr Wilson.

A tingle of adrenalin shot up and out of her guts, and formed the words in her mouth that she hadn’t planned.

‘Your son crashed into my car on my way home from work yesterday, and I need your insurance details please.’

‘You shouldn’t have been overtaking him; it’s your own fault.’

Carrie remembered how tall she felt in her stilettos.

‘Your Land Rover was clearly faulty. The indicators didn’t work and there were no mirrors on it at all, inside or out!’

The Falcon remained motionless. His icy focus burnt into the soft brown eyes of the little mouse. It was getting hot in that raincoat on such a lovely day.

‘Don’t mention anything about the mirrors or the indicators and I’ll see that everything is alright.’

‘But how do I know that you’ll do what you say you’ll do?’

‘Do as I tell you and it’ll be alright. I give you my word.’

Carrie hadn’t met anyone before who was as good at staring as she was. She was shocked to find that she was actually enjoying herself. She felt that she was somehow having a telepathic experience with this most strange and powerful man. She knew that she was the mouse, she knew that she was going to lose, yet she didn’t feel completely helpless. She hadn’t planned to say:

‘Alright, I’ll trust what you say; I want to get this sorted quickly.’

But she said it.

‘I give you my word,’ he stared.

‘It’s no wonder people think he’s mad,’ thought Carrie. She was disappointed to end her ordeal so soon. She felt odd, turned upside down and inside out; the raincoat hadn’t helped today.

The Falcon hadn’t finished with his prey.

‘Close your eyes and hold out your hand,’ he said.

‘What for?’

‘Why couldn’t you just say ‘no’ you stupid girl,’ hissed Carrie to herself.

‘Close your eyes and hold out your hand!’ repeated mad Mr Wilson.

Carrie imagined him putting something horrible in her hand, a big hairy spider or something, just to make a point.

Still, she closed her eyes. She held out her hand. She felt something hard, round, and very light, rest on her upturned palm.

She opened her eyes.

‘It’s a walnut!’ she gasped in surprise. ‘Where did you get it from?’

‘I have a tree in my orchard.’

‘Thank you,’ she smiled, ‘I didn’t think they grew in this country. Well, goodbye, then.’

But the Falcon was gone. He didn’t say goodbye.

Thursday 6th April 1978 continued…

Copyright © Caroline Wedd 2015

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

All the characters, names, incidents, and places in this book are entirely fictitious; any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Cover Illustration Copyright © Caroline Wedd 2015

Cover Design Copyright © Peter Hodges 2015

All rights reserved

Published by Caroline Wedd

 

 

Part One: Spring – ‘Beginnings…’

Thursday 6th April continued…

 

Carrie pulled onto the drive and stopped her car. As usual, the sight of her mother’s sparkling white lace curtains in the corners of the kitchen windows made her heart sink. Even the tightest of clothes could never stop that deflated feeling in her body and her mind every time she arrived home. Carrie didn’t dislike her home, or her mother. She felt guilty and ungrateful that the shiny cleanliness and perfection of the house left her feeling so out of place.

Some people would give anything to live in such a wonderland – beautiful, organised gardens with neat rows of flowers in weed-free beds; colour co-ordinated wall paper and plush carpets in every room; even picture frames that matched the lamp shades; photographs of family milestones strategically placed around the house to remind everyone who saw them what a successful and marvellous family they all were. And on paper, they were.

Carrie had been a good ‘all-rounder’ all her life to date. She’d joined in with everything, everywhere. She’d filled every moment of her life with gainful employment. Ironic then, that she felt so empty inside these days. Her father had his shelves of trophies from years of racing vintage motorbikes. He suddenly stopped racing ten years ago.

‘I just woke up one morning and decided I was fed up of falling off and getting hurt,’ he’d laugh to anyone who asked him about them.

‘I’m too old to get hurt any more.’

He’d kept all his bikes, though. Nowadays, he escaped into their garage at weekends to tinker around with them. Carrie couldn’t understand why he didn’t fancy a change from the smell of oil and grease at weekends after being in his garage all week at work. She suspected that, just like her, he had an aversion to sparkling white lace curtains.

Carrie wondered why on earth her parents had chosen each other. Did they get a choice in the matter, or was she a mistake that had sealed their fate forever? Bill and Jill; their names rhymed, but that seemed to be the only part of them that did so. Their wacky alliance was a source of constant mystery to their only daughter. It put Carrie off the thought of ever getting tied to anyone, although her best friend, Debs, had just got married and seemed to be very happy about it.

Carrie’s mother was formidable looking woman. Tall, slim, fine boned; Carrie had a lot to thank her mother for as she, too, had these lucky, hard-wearing, genes. But Carrie’s mother also had nerves as highly strung as her high, fine, cheekbones.

There had been many a weekend throughout Carrie’s life when her mother would just take to her bed for no apparent reason. If she had a headache the rest of the household had to tiptoe around in sackcloth and ashes. No television, the only stir being the fetching and carrying of drinks and things that her mother needed. Then, on Monday morning, the fussing over, everyone’s weekend spoilt, mother would be back to her usual, efficient, self.

Carrie’s mother was a pillar of the community. She was on more committees than there were days in the week.

‘She fills her whole life with stuff, just like me,’ thought Carrie, as she entered the kitchen to find her mother nattering away on the phone, papers and lists in front of her on the kitchen table. Carrie knew that she was a disappointment to her mother. She was not showing a healthy interest in joining her as a second pillar of the community, but preferred to don dirty overalls and poke about in the garage at home with her dad, or down at the big garage itself.

‘I don’t want to end up like her, full of stuff but no substance. I want to be real!’

Carrie reminded herself of this every time she came home to find her mother in overdrive. She just hadn’t worked out what being ‘real’ was yet. No time to worry about that now. She didn’t wait around in the kitchen to tell her mother about her car, or her walnut; she wouldn’t mention that bit of the story to anyone just yet.

Somehow, it made her feel a bit uncomfortable and she couldn’t work out why. She went straight up to her bedroom and put the walnut on her dressing table. She showered away the grime of her working day, the injury to her pride and to her little red car.

But the happy dog, the Land Rover, the farmers and the walnut, she could not clean from her mind. They made a carousel inside her head. Round and round they went; she was in the middle and couldn’t step out of it. She put the walnut inside her bedside table drawer. It didn’t make any difference.

‘I could eat it, and be done with it,’ she thought.

No, she couldn’t do that.

‘I need to see Debs.’

It was still quite early in the evening, so Carrie felt sure that Debs wouldn’t mind her dropping in on her wedded bliss. Carrie and Debs had stuck together like glue all through school. They still had that unexpected, unexplainable, bond between them, even though their lives had taken completely different paths. On paper their friendship seemed impossible.

Debs had left school at sixteen, to work in the local contact lens factory, and had just got married to Joe, who also worked at the contact lens factory. Carrie, on the other hand, had had a university education. She was on the ladder of life, she hoped, to get to the top of it; to be somebody; to do something; to make a difference; to make a success of her life, whatever that was. Carrie almost envied Debs for how easy she seemed to make everything.

Debs was happy and content and had everything worked out. Carrie was unhappy and discontented most of the time and had nothing worked out. Why? Debs would probably laugh and tell her to make a Waldorf salad, then the carousel would go away, and she could get back to normal.

 

――――♦――――

 

Carrie lived on the outskirts of town; it was country life only a few seconds from the civilisation of a busy town. She usually drove to Debs’ house, but it was a lovely evening, and she didn’t want to completely lose her car bumper, so she decided to walk.

She could relax as soon as she stepped across the threshold of Debs’ newly painted, blue, front door. No lace curtains here. It was all ultra-modern. Minimalist. Raspberry coloured blinds and sharp, bright, square furniture everywhere, except for one very big, soft, leather, sofa in the middle of the living room. Debs was always pleased to see her.

With an eternal smile and bubbly laugh, her optimism was never blunted by Carrie’s regular, angst ridden, visits. Carrie was very well aware that Debs’ was a very special friend. Sometimes it troubled her that she didn’t feel that she was giving back to Debs in any way, but Debs never seemed to have any problems, so she didn’t know how she could do any more than she was doing.

Carrie collapsed into the big, soft, leather, sofa and waited for Debs to make her feel better. A few minutes of laughing and jokes about walnuts and she’d be sorted. But she was wrong. Carrie told her story, acting out every last enraged detail. She got a smile from Debs, but no laughter. No jokes about walnuts.

‘You must go back!’ said Debs in a dead pan voice.

‘What do you mean?’ squeaked Carrie.

‘You must go back to that farm. You’ve got a thing about that farmer. You must go back and find out!’ said Debs with a big, satisfied, smile on her face.

‘But which one?’

The blood drained from Carrie’s face. She hadn’t said ‘but which one’ out loud but it had horrified her that her unconscious mind had replied in this way without her permission. One was a staring, wild, old man, and the other was a great stammering, dirty brown, idiot.

‘What a load of rubbish! Of course I haven’t got any such thing!’

Colour rushing back into her cheeks, she continued:

‘Anyway, how could I? I’ve no reason to go back there for anything.’

‘I’m sure you can think of something! You want to be a journalist, don’t you? You must be good with words, then.’

Debs’ eyes were still smiling at her. Her steady gaze made Carrie feel like a microbe wriggling around underneath a microscope.

‘Where’s Joe tonight?’

Change of subject tactic.

‘It’s darts night,’ said Debs. ‘He’ll be back late so I can watch what I want on the telly.’

‘Why can’t you watch what you want on the telly anyway?’ thought Carrie, but she didn’t say so.

They watched a bit of telly. They had a laugh and a joke until it was time for Carrie to go home.

‘Let me know how you get on!’ shouted Debs as Carrie turned to wave goodbye from the road.

‘What? Oh, give over!’ Carrie barked back.

For once, Carrie couldn’t wait to get away from Debs’ house. She was being slowly strangled by a very uncomfortable, tight, feeling in her stomach.   The carousel whirled faster in her head. Debs had not made it better. Debs was right. She had to go back.

 

Friday 7th April

 

‘Enter!’

Carrie pressed down extra hard on the door handle. Her hands felt clammy and sweaty; she feared losing her grip on both the handle and herself as she obeyed Mr Pike, and entered his office. Carrie did not have to see the editor in chief, and esteemed   owner of the newspaper, very often; she was not important enough to do so.

Mr Pike was sitting behind his large, old fashioned, mahogany wooden desk. His telephones and other gadgets looked like they’d just dropped onto it through a hole in time. Or was it Mr Pike and his mahogany desk that were misplaced?

Carrie tried hard not to stare at him. In truth, he looked more like a trout than a pike. She always tried to be kind in her thoughts, but the trout would not go away. It was sitting there now, in a pin-striped suit. Great, round, jowls hid its gills. An enormous mouth, with rubbery lips that hung permanently open, continually blowing bubbles and gasping for air; a sheen of oily skin and hair slicked back in the direction of its scales; webbed fingers resting on the desk.

‘I bet he keeps his tail under the desk and that’s why he needs a big, old, wooden one to hide it.’

Horrified at her own unkindness, she temporarily forgot her nerves and the purpose of her mission. She smiled bravely.

‘Good morning, Mr Pike.’

‘Good morning.’

The rubbery lips did not move very far, but released the deepest, most booming, voice that Carrie had ever heard. It was so deep and dark that it was off the scale of resonance.

‘What can I do for you, Carrie?’

Carrie pulled out her enthusiastic, high pitched, bright voice, by way of reply.

‘Mr Pike, I’ve had the most brilliant idea for the newspaper…’

 

――――♦――――

 

Debs pressed down extra hard on the office door handle with her elbow; she didn’t want to drop the tray of contact lenses that she balanced in her hands. It was a privilege to be allowed up to the main offices to make the final check on the finished lenses before they made their way out into the world, where all eyes would be, literally, upon them. There was no room for mistakes. There could be no air bubbles or imperfections of any sort.

It wasn’t physically demanding work but it was tiring, all the same. Still, it was only her eyes that would get tired today. She could relax into the comfort of a soft, office chair. She could sit at a lovely, polished wood, table. One of the secretaries would probably even bring her a cup of tea. Free for a few hours from the monotony of working the machines on the factory floor, she could let her mind wander. Only her eyes belonged to the factory today.

Joe would be downstairs somewhere, working his shift. The rest of her belonged to him. She was so happy to have her own home with Joe.

‘That’s what Carrie needs. A man in her life. I wish she could get fixed up with someone, but she never quite manages it. It’s that mother of hers, pumping her full of guilt all the time. ‘You can’t do this, you can’t do that, you mustn’t do this, you shouldn’t do that. It’s wrong, it’s dirty, it’s disgusting!’ It would do her good to have someone to love, you can’t beat it…Mind you, it can be a bit tiring,’ giggled Debs to herself.

‘Maybe you can have a bit too much loving sometimes. Joe gets a rest when he gets home while I’m doing all the cooking and the cleaning and the garden. His idea of loving is full on, all the time. Sometimes, I’d just love a cuddle. Still, it’s early days, we haven’t been married long. He’ll get tired eventually, and things will settle down.’

Debs stretched out her legs underneath the big, wooden table. So far, she’d found no air bubbles or imperfections of any sort.

‘I wonder if Carrie’s found a way to get back onto that farm, yet. She’ll have to make sure there are no air bubbles or imperfections in her plan, if she’s going to get past that mother of hers. Go, Carrie, go! It’s about time you started to break free…’

 

――――♦――――

 

Mr Pike opened the door, and stood in the doorway.

‘He’s got legs after all!’

Carrie was quite disappointed.

Mr Pike was booming again.

‘Well, girl, if you’re prepared to do the work in your own time, we’ll have a look at what you come up with. I’m not making promises, mind. I’ve got a business to run, you know.’

‘Yes, I know.’

Carrie needed to get through the doorway, but Mr Pike was still filling it. She walked purposefully towards the door.

‘Thank you for your time, Mr Pike.’

Mr Pike turned into profile position as Carrie reached the door. His immense swim bladder protruded into the space that Carrie needed to get through.

‘Let me know how you get on.’

Mr Pike adjusted his gills to produce a smile at each corner of his mouth.

‘He’s not going to move,’ realised Carrie.

She took a deep breath, which made her even slimmer, and seized her moment. Swift as a silver minnow, she slid past the protruding Mr Pike and kept swimming, deep into the office pond.

 

Monday 10th April

 

Phase two. Wanting to avoid another tricky walk up the long, white, gravelled drive in her favourite stilettos, Carrie drove all the way up this time and pulled into the perfectly square farmyard. There were no signs of life anywhere. The driveway had taken her up close to the large, red brick, farmhouse. A low, red brick, wall and lawned gardens separated it from the drive.

Carrie had tried to scan as many of the rectangular Georgian windows for the twitch of a curtain or a presence of some kind, but she had seen none. That the farmyard also seemed derelict and unoccupied was equally a relief as it gave her a moment to think through her outrageous proposition once more, and push her thumping heart back down her throat so that she would at least be able to speak when she found him again. It hadn’t actually taken her long to work out a reason to come back to the farm. Such was her enthusiasm for her idea that she feared she may have been doing it even without Debs’ prodding. This worried her. She was behaving totally out of character, out of control, and she was loving every minute of it. She hadn’t even stopped to consider that her plan might fail – until now.

‘What if he tells me to f… off?’

Carrie did another sweep of the outbuildings that edged the farmyard. Nothing. The wooden shed doors were either closed or dropping to bits and couldn’t be closed. There was one entrance with no door at all which led into total darkness.

‘Where’s the happy dog?’

Time to move. Carrie got out of her car. It was a good feeling to move her legs. It calmed her nerves to feel her heels pressing into her stilettos; she was used to tottering about in them all day, it made her feel professional. And Carrie meant to do her business today.

Unfortunately, the farmyard didn’t have laminate flooring. Her stilettos sank into a quagmire of mud and gravel. The ground was soft from the rain of the night before. The yard was a minefield of puddles, clumps of weeds, cow pats and larger pieces of bricks and rubble. Carrie picked her way across the yard, hoping, with each step, that she had made the right choice each time, and would land on firm ground. It was not a very elegant passage. She didn’t know how long he’d been standing at the back door of the farmhouse, watching her undignified progress.

‘Hello again, Mr Wilson.’

‘Ah do!’

‘Oh God, what a terrible start!’

Carrie cringed inside. Stilettos in mouth, she garbled her unusual request.

‘I’m talking too fast, too fast,’ she panicked.

But she’d started so she pressed on and finished.

‘I knew you’d be back.’

‘He’s going to make me sweat for this,’ said the pores of the skin on her flushed face.

‘It would be a fantastic opportunity for the town dwelling community to see inside the way of life of the farming community that’s so often misunderstood,’ raced on the raw, undergraduate, voice. ‘And you’ll get a worker on the farm for free!’ she trilled at speed.

Carrie smiled her best smile.

‘There doesn’t look like there’s much work in you.’

Mr Wilson looked down at her sodden, mud stained, stilettos. He slowly let his eyes scan all the way up from her dainty ankles, through her tightly fastened raincoat and finally come to rest inside her eyes. Carrie felt dizzy and completely undone. It was not unpleasant. She stood her ground.

‘Of course I can work as well as any man,’ she fought back. ‘I grew up in the oil and grease of a large garage and I’ve worked hard all my life.’

‘What’s in it for you, then, missy?’

‘My name is Carrie,’ hissed Carrie.

She really was feeling angry now. The   voice continued:

‘My editor is keen for me to provide a monthly column. (Lie). It will take our readers through the seasons of the year, educate, inform, and entertain them (lie, lie, lie!). It will be something a little bit different for our newspaper to offer and, frankly, it will give my career a good boost if it’s successful (true, true).’

But it wasn’t the whole truth, and Carrie and the old man leaning in the doorway knew it. His eyes spoke:

‘You’re here for yourself, for me, and for my son. I know it, you know it, and you know that I know it.’

A calf called out in the distance. A sudden gust of wind tugged at her hair, wrapping it around her face, releasing her from his gaze.

‘It’ll be alright. I give you my word.’

Touché. She smiled defiantly at mad Mr Wilson.

‘Very well. You can have a try. But we have to stay anonymous. I don’t want any health and safety nonsense turning up around here. And I can fire as well as hire!’

Mission accomplished. Carrie was pleased.

‘When can I start then?’

‘Straight away. Come on Saturday and we’ll see how you get on.’

‘Oh thank you, Mr Wilson.’

Carrie genuinely forgot, for a moment, what a scary individual this old man was. She turned to go.

‘I’ll bring my wellies!’

She thought she caught a smile on his face as he disappeared back into the farmhouse. Carrie put on her seatbelt and started her little red car.

‘Oh my God, what have I just done?’

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Messages from readers

Fiona MacSherry (3rd August 2018)

‘I absolutely loved The Walnut Tree – I read it in a day – couldn’t put it down, it really flowed. It’s fantastic!!!!’

Linda Wyllie & Paula Hunt, Dalbury book club (4th March 2017)

Interesting storyline with sensitive dealing of domestic abuse. Good development of characters, especially of the mother who completely surprised her daughter by taking control of a very tricky situation. It was then that the mother’s story came out. One of our book club members, couldn’t put the book down and said she felt transported back in time and place. my own opinion is that, for me, it was slightly long and the story wouldn’t have lost anything from being slightly shorter, but overall positive comments from the book club. Thanks.

Joan Goodwin (3rd March 2017)

A very knowledgeable and well written book; thank you, Caroline, ‘The Walnut Tree’ was a very enjoyable read.’

Susan Hewitt (17th September 2016)

‘This book was a different style of writing from what I was used to but, as I got into it, I was totally gripped and I really enjoyed it.’

Jacqueline Parsons (7th September 2016)

I absolutely loved this book – I couldn’t put it down! I can’t wait to read the sequel.

Pat Hall (13th August 2016)

I give this book 5 stars and the title of highly recommended. This book gives a fascinating insight into the lives of real country folk. It is brilliantly written and amazing that it is Caroline’s first book. She takes you into the minds of the characters as well as their actions. It has a memorable storyline as there are not so many names to remember and I found it difficult to put down. Could not wait to read what happened next. Very much looking forwards to Caroline’s next book.

Celia Richardson (12th August 2016)

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The portrayal of the all the characters was extremely graphic and realistic and I likewise loved the vivid description of the farming way of life – everything rang true to me. I was gripped throughout and couldn’t wait to turn the page to find out what happened next. I can’t wait for the sequel!

Stuart King (8th August 2016)

Lovely book – really enjoyed it – it’s probably not the sort of book I would have normally picked up so well done you!!

Anna Hogarty, Agency Editor, The Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency (21st July 2016)

I have read your novel, and there’s so much I like about it – it’s quirky, charming, well written and refreshingly light. We’re a small agency, meaning we can only take a handful of writers on every year, so I’m afraid we’re not going to be able to offer representation at this point. Best of luck going forwards – you are very talented, and deserve every success. If you write anything new and would like to share it with us, we’d be delighted to have a read.

CMAYR, Amazon Customer (13th May 2016)

Thoroughly enjoyed reading this first novel. Liked the style of writing. Was sad to leave the characters behind so looking forward to reading the sequel.

Mick Delf (8th May 2016)

‘I loved the sub stories, the mother and father, and Debs especially. Also how you brought the farming bits to life. The only things that were missing were helicopters and machine guns!’

Peter Straus, Managing Director, Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd, Literary Agency (5th May 2016)

Thank you for sending me a partial of your fiction ‘The Walnut Tree’. It is lively and engaging and written with passion, but I am afraid I am being very cautious as to what I take on at present and feel with regret I must pass.

Paul Honey ( 22nd April 2016)

A good story. Good twist at the end and nicely evocative writing about rural farming life as well. Good characters and the drama of New Year’s Eve worked really well. Thank you.

Debbie Bridgford, Amazon Australia, Customer (6th April 2016)

I really enjoyed this book. It had good characters and a storyline to match. The main person in the story Carrie Langford the female protagonist. It was the sad looking tree, reached out to her in a gentle way, which I thought was great. It was a great read and I would rate it 4 out of 5. I would also read it again because I really enjoyed it.

Steven, USA Amazon Customer (30th March 2016)

Great story, and writing, a few things left unanswered, but maybe the writer will pick up on that in the sequel.

Tammy, USA Amazon Customer (18th March 2016)

I thoroughly enjoyed this book/ I don’t know how to explain it but I was drawn into it from the beginning. Looking forward to reading more from Caroline Wedd.

Karen Carter, USA Amazon, (8th February 2016)

Received via TBC for an honest review This book did not immediately grab my attention, rather I felt I got to know, and care, about the characters as the book progressed. I ended up feeling extremes of emotion for different characters and literally wanting to shout at some via my kindle. I felt there were some questions left about some characters that maybe deserve a story of their own…? Indeed we were perhaps only seeing the beginning of the journey that some of our characters were on. Carrie and her friends and family each have their own demons to face and we get the sense that they are finding their way, sometimes together and sometimes on their own. The book did make me think about the impact of the family set up and how we may allow our past to dictate our future. An intriguing read, I would certainly read more about these characters and by this author.

Jackie Roche, USA Amazon, (22nd January 2016)

I would like to thank Tracy at TBC and Caroline Wedd for giving me the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest and open review. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first started reading this. I didn’t expect such an enthralling story. I started reading this just before I went to bed and only put it down when I dropped my kindle. (Luckily there was no damage!) Caroline Wedd’s description of the countryside was so realistic I found myself transported there. Carrie is a “real” person and at times she made me laugh out loud. This is more than just a love story. It explores relationships and the depth of feelings. I look forward to learning more about the developing relationship between Carrie and John

Sue Wallace, Amazon USA, (12th January 2016)

I received this as an arc from the book club (tbc) in exchange for an honest review. Ambitious, young, ‘ would be ‘ journalist Carrie Langford is impatient to be free from her boring, sterile, life at the newspaper. Can she escape from the guilt that is daily forced upon her by her mother. OMG. Wow. Absolutely fantastic read. CNPID. I loved the story and the characters. Carrie made me laugh. She is my favourite character. Some of the things she said. This is a lovely feel good read. It brightened up my week. I loved the ending too. This is a must read and I would highly recommend this book. 5 * although this is definitely worth 10*

Emma Bell ( 29th December 2015)

Really enjoyed your book, Caroline. The book is pretty brutal in parts, quite a harsh world to say the least…It’s not a sanitised picture you paint. Looking forwards to further unravelling in book 2…’

Charlotte Jordan (29th December 2015)

 I finished the book last night and gave a heavy sigh that my journey was over. I’ve not read another single book in the last year with a new baby and so happy I read this one! With beautiful characters and their real relationships, great phrase repetition, and such clever writing – thoroughly captivating. Excellent news that there is another book on the way, do you have a waiting list?! Because I’d love to go on it please!!! Xx

Sue Barton (16th December 2015)

‘Thank you for writing a book that was an absolute joy to read.’

Jane Smith (16th December 2015)

‘I would like to congratulate you on your fabulous book ‘The Walnut Tree’, I could not put it down! I really believe this will be a best seller, it is very cleverly written, and I think the best book I have ever read. Best wishes to you and your family for a very Happy Christmas.’

Rob-MI ( US Amazon Customer 24th November 2015)

Dear Readers, Wedd has truly created a brilliant and poetic novel in the likes and richness of Robert Frost with the creativity and inspirational sass of Theodor Seuss Geise. Each word, of every sentence, breathes meaning and life into the carefully crafted selection of characters, as well as the intertwined stories of their lives. Few readers will be able to take this journey without feeling like they have known Carrie Langford and suffered her experiences both good and bad. Wedd’s writing style and attention to detail is reinforced with an unprecedented awareness of the necessary information and literary references to build an immeasurable depth in the details of the story. This awareness of history intertwined with farm-life culture imprisons the reader and the underlying story through the pale eyes of human psychology bound by passion, pleasure, fear, and the uncertainties between men, women, life, death, failure, and the overwhelming desire for success. Wedd will leave you aching for pages, but have no fear, will return in time to deliver more than desired.

Helen Cooper (Playwright)

“This morning I started reading The Walnut Tree. I must say I am very impressed with its originality. All characters are damaged: stutter, disfigured hand, unusual height, needing a tailored raincoat to feel protected against the world…which all rings true to me. There is a strength and originality to your work. Your story is gripping right from the start.”

Gerald Michaluk (Managing Director, Isle of Arran Brewery, CEO Marketing Management Services International)

The Walnut Tree has all the hallmarks of a best seller – and a great cover illustration too!

Helen Crowson (RMN,MA,CBT Accredited, Service Manager/Lead CBT Therapist)

A great read, a real page turner, possibly the best book I have ever read by a new author, I am looking forward to the sequel!

Irena Beaumont (Retired Reflexologist)

This (The Walnut Tree) is a book to take on holiday.

Brenda Croft (Retired Office Manager)

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Walnut Tree and I look forward to reading Caroline’s next book.

Mark Davies (Hairdresser)

I see this (The Walnut Tree) as a film.

Tim Hodges (Engineering Manager)

The Walnut Tree is a wonderful read; a beautifully written novel that’s impossible to put down.

Mary Wedd (Caroline’s mother)

I just wanted to read and read and read The Walnut Tree, I just couldn’t put it down. It’s a fantastic story. I’m very proud of you, Caroline.

Ian Hewitt (Managing Director, Pianoworld)

An enthralling, multi-layered debut novel. The Walnut Tree is a captivating read, highly recommended

Sylvia Simon and Mark

Praise for The Walnut Tree 

Here’s what others say about The Walnut Tree:

‘I’m speechless!!! Just finished The Walnut Tree. It’s absolutely brilliant…I just couldn’t put it down. Well done, sweetheart, it’s an absolutely fantastic book.’

Emma Titterton, Friend and Businesswoman

‘This morning I started reading The Walnut Tree. I must say I am very impressed with its originality. All characters are damaged: stutter, disfigured hand, unusual height, needing a tailored raincoat to feel protected against the world…which all rings true to me. There is a strength and originality to your work. Your story is gripping right from the start.’

Helen Cooper, Playwright

 ‘The Walnut Tree has all the hallmarks of a best seller – and a great cover illustration too!’

Gerald Michaluk, BSc DipH-WU MSc DipM FCIM Managing Director, Isle of Arran Brewery, CEO Marketing Management Services International

‘A great read, a real page turner, possibly the best book I have ever read by a new author, I am looking forward to the sequel!’

Helen Crowson, RMN,MA,CBT Accredited, Service Manager/Lead CBT Therapist

‘This (The Walnut Tree) is a book to take on holiday.’

Irena Beaumont, Retired Reflexologist

‘I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Walnut Tree and I look forward to reading Caroline’s next book.’

Brenda Croft, Retired Office Manager

‘I see this (The Walnut Tree) as a film.’

Mark Davies, Hairdresser.

‘The Walnut Tree is a wonderful read; a beautifully written novel that’s impossible to put down.’

Tim Hodges, Engineering Manager

‘I just wanted to read and read and read The Walnut Tree, I just couldn’t put it down. It’s a fantastic story. I’m very proud of you, Caroline.’

Mary Wedd, Caroline’s mother

‘An enthralling, multi-layered debut novel. The Walnut Tree is a captivating read, highly recommended.’

Ian Hewitt, Managing Director, Pianoworld

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About the author

1aCaroline Wedd was born in 1963 at Burton on Trent, Staffordshire, and grew up on a small dairy farm. She was educated at Hatton School in Derbyshire, and went on to graduate from Southampton University with an honours degree in music and a post graduate certificate in education from London University Institute of Education. She has spent most of her working life teaching music to school children of all ages but has also worked as a stewardess in a hotel, as a country and western singer and as an animal portrait artist.

She currently teaches piano; she lives in the Midlands with her family.

The Walnut Tree is her first novel.

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