Single mum Jess has had her world turned upside down. Now it’s about to be turned inside out.
Jess has got a tough life back on track after love-of-her-life husband Simon walked out on her and their beautiful young daughters Katy and Abi. But she has long-time friend and confidante Polly to turn to...until Polly and Simon start having an affair together.
When Polly decides to apply for a job at Jess’s school, in the English department, Jess feels threatened. So why has Polly set her sights on the department head’s role? And why is the school now offering Jess a sideways ‘promotion’?
Jess can no longer trust anyone – including herself. Then out of the blue she is mysteriously sent a clipping for a temporary post in the Ministry of Education in Ghana, where she did a gap year as a teenager, and where she was happy. She is on the brink of losing everything at home but could this be a lifeline?
Julia Ibbotson’s Finding Jess is a passionate study of love and betrayal – and of one woman’s bid to reclaim her self-belief and trust after suffering great misfortune. It is a feel-good story of a woman’s strength and spirit rising above adversity.
Chapter One: January 1990 - Before
“Please forgive me! I don’t know why I did it, I must have been mad. Oh god, Jess, can you ever forgive me?”
Jess looked at the tense huddled figure on the doorstep. She watched the tears coursing down the pale face before her, fair fringe plastered to her brow, eyes red and bulging, hands threaded through the straps of the hobo bag and clasped together at her chest. A study in tension and grief. What could she say? Could she ever forgive? All that had happened flooded back into her mind, events and emotions she had fought off for years and thought that they were past and that she was over it all. She touched the door lintel to try to steady herself.
Where was the attractive stylish blonde, the confident self-assured woman she had known as her best friend, before … before …?
Yet Jess noted the expensive designer jeans she wore and the draped silky top.
“You’d better come in,” she said with a grimace and led her visitor through the tiny narrow hall to the bijou living room. She liked the word ‘bijou’; it sounded better in her mind than small and cramped.
She moved her daughter’s school bag off the battered armchair, gestured to Polly to sit and perched herself on the sofa, back stiff and upright as if she was ready for flight at the first sign of anything untoward. Yet this was someone with whom she had shared so much, university, work, marriage, having children.
And a husband. Simon, who had been her soul mate ...