Lifelines by Eleanor Bertin

Lifelines

About the Book

Life had been going swimmingly until biologist Dr. Robert Fielding was bewildered by a squall that still threatens to shipwreck him. Tormented by the losses in his life, there are a dozen reasons why he doesn’t need the friendship of his new neighbour, Anna Fawcett. After all, a senior and her son with Down syndrome aren’t exactly in his league.

But how’s he supposed to turn down fresh cinnamon buns? And Robert hasn’t bargained on his neighbour’s innocent, probing questions. They erode his faith in naturalism and collide with his assumptions about life, love and truth.  Have his foundational beliefs been the cause of his personal losses? As he searches for answers, Anna’s example of loving integrity keeps him coming back. Or maybe it’s her homemade pies. Yet to risk re-thinking his core convictions for a chance at personal peace would expose his soul and tear open an old wound.

Others in the neighbourhood, too, are under Anna’s thrall – a teacher facing a crisis pregnancy, a crusty cat lady, a cancer-ridden conspiracy theorist, a Cambodian immigrant family. Each is touched by the power of her obscure and ordinary life.

Book Excerpt

Dr. Robert Q.M. Fielding was vexed—with the prickly branch of
overgrown rose bush that had just scraped his face. With the grating
screech of hinges as he opened his neighbour’s screen door.
With the wasps that worried past his ears to the few remaining faded blossoms.
He blew pent-up air out of tight lips, pffpllpff. And with himself.
That he should have accepted a dinner—scratch that, supper—invitation to
his senior neighbour’s this evening was… It was preposterous. That cursed
inability of his to think fast on his feet too often got him into uncomfortable
spots like this. Yet here he stood at her door.

He should have seen it coming. The mid-August day he had moved in,
there she was at his door looking up at him over her glasses and proffering
a couple of still-warm cinnamon buns. Her cheery waves or greetings the
last few days when he came home after work. Attempts at long-distance
conversation from her back deck when he was mowing his grass. Then her
handicapped twenty-something son, Jesse, brought him some cookies he
had baked himself.

The day she had asked him a simple question he’d been unable to
answer about the oscillation of her new lawn sprinkler, he was annoyed for
hours. First, with himself for finding that a PhD in biology hadn’t sufficed
to solve an elementary plumbing problem, but worse and more puzzling,
with the odd and unaccustomed feeling of guilt his curt response had
brought him.

So when Jesse came to his door last week with an invitation card written
carefully crooked and wearing a smile carelessly wide, Robert Fielding
surprised himself and said, “Yes, I’ll come.” And he knew precisely why
he’d accepted. Anything was better than sitting at home waiting for the
call that never came.

 

Eleanor Bertin

About the Author

In a fit of optimism at age eleven, Eleanor Bertin began her first novel by numbering a stack of one hundred pages. Only two of them were ever filled with words. Lifelines, her first completed novel, was shortlisted in the 2015 Word Alive Press Free Publishing Contest.

Eleanor holds a college diploma in Communications and worked in agricultural journalism until the birth of her first child. The family eventually grew to include one daughter and six sons (the youngest with Down syndrome) whom she home-educated for twenty-five years.

Eleanor and her husband live amidst the ongoing renovation of a century home in central Alberta where she blogs about sometimes-elusive contentment at jewelofcontentment.wordpress.com.

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