By Laura May
Key Themes: fiction, love, bipolar disorder, manic depression, anxiety
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“Writing is like breathing to me - even if I want to stop for a while, have a break, regroup, I simply can't. I find I can't stop the ink running across blank sheets. When I went to Cornwall to write this novel, it took me over. I'm so thankful it did.” - Laura May
'The Letterbox Man' is a tale of love and loss in the life of Beth Spencer, set in the beautiful, haunting village of Polruan, Cornwall. Returning to Polruan for one week to clear her mother's house following her death, Beth, herself now an old woman, knows that she has hurt too much and has been away for too long, and that it is time to forgive the village and its river for the pain they caused her in the past.
As Beth revisits the village of her childhood she is resigned to the fact that she is old and that she is dying. However, she is not prepared for the overwhelming beauty and peace that greets her there, and she is startled to find, among the ghosts of the past, a chance for a future.
In turns rich, vivid, poetic and sorrowful, the first novel from Laura May, a young woman tackling Bipolar Disorder, is a poetic achievement.
About the Author
Born in 1983, Laura May was always ‘different’. In 2008, after ten years of being treated for depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies, she was diagnosed with rapid cycling Bipolar Disorder. Over the past eleven years Laura May has experienced psychotic episodes, has attempted suicide and has had several bouts of extreme mania and depression, all of which she has tackled through her writing.
Laura works within mental health, and possesses a degree in English Literature from the University of Hull. She lives in Essex with her wife and their ‘babies’, the many cats and dogs
Chapter One: Monday
Beth, aged 84
‘No matter what you dooo, I only wanna be with yoooouuu’. I turn the radio down and Peter looks sideways at me. I wish he wouldn’t, these roads are so narrow and difficult to master if you are not used to driving on them. Six hours of road we have covered, twisting and turning like a good plot, getting nearer and nearer to the village, to the beautiful river that shapes the people, to my past. It’s so strange, being back here.
Polruan is such a beautiful village, with a Cornish heart and sunny summers, but even as we drive in I can feel the suffocation settling upon me, my breath catching in my old, rattling lungs. I can’t quite believe the days have passed, despite me leaving. The gulls still cry, for a loss I don’t know of, the storms still rage, although today is a beautiful sky. It seems so quiet here, so calm. How anyone can sleep in such silence is unimaginable, although once I must have slept soundly here. I must have.
Now I need sounds to rock me off to sleep, cars and sirens and life tapping against my window as I close my eyes. I guess I have just grown used to noise. Being back here is like bumping into an old sweetheart years after the tears have dried. When you look at them you can see them saying your name, see their lips moving, but you hear the ringing in your ears of the first kiss you shared, the first looks you stole.
I can see this village, and I will see the changes, the disappearance of the bakery and how weary my mothers’ house has become, but all I can hear are the ghosts of my past moaning on the breeze and winking at me from behind clouds.
Her house looks much the same as when I left it, so many years ago, a lifetime ago. I have to adjust my glasses to read the sign by the door, even though I know what it says. My eyes, so old, how much they have seen and how little I still know. ‘Welcome Home’, the sign reads.
It’s like turning around to another time, coming here. I feel ashamed to think that I didn’t want to come back and sort out the house. After all, it can only stand here for so long, empty and grieving. A grown woman not being able to return to her home seems bizarre, but I just couldn’t come here before now.
I thought my heart would be too old to take another break. I thought I would be too old to try again, to try and see this place without tears in my eyes and screams ringing in my ears. I am old, and it is time. Time to say goodbye to my nightmares and my memories, and goodbye to the smiles of my past as well, all the happy moments that filled my life when I was here. My old bones, worn with age and life, need to rest. They need to be home.
Despite fleeing this place so many years ago, and returning only a handful of times, it feels right to return now, to die in the same bed as my dear mother. It feels right to return to a blanket of comfort, to wrap my old life around me once more. It feels OK not to take the long way any more. It is time.
This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 29 July, 2010.