Before All Else

Before All Else

How deep do we bury our secrets?  This comic and bitter-sweet tale set in a year in the life of a Suffolk village uncovers secrets both personal and archaeological.

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About the Book

How deep do we bury our secrets?

The Suffolk village of Bullenden is the setting for this comic and bitter-sweet tale of peccadilloes, consequences and lemon drizzle cake.

Cecily, long-time resident of the village and outwardly most respectable of the three de Mare sisters, cannot escape the murky events of her past. Loud-mouthed Mandy threatens to blow her secret wide open.  Will Cecily’s reputation survive or will she lose face to the two people who matter most in her life – her sisters?

Marcus flees London at the end of his marriage to the vitriolic Velda while she blithely shares their relationship’s most intimate secrets with her own outraged sisterhood. What are the post-break-up rules here?

In this highly characterful village, we meet, amongst many others, Madge the irrepressible Post Mistress, Gwyddno the reluctant Pagan traveller and Major Welding, anxious to reinvent himself following a rather close shave with the authorities.

During preparations for the annual summer fair, the village reveals its own hidden treasure – an ancient and holy space is unearthed.  Marcus, amateur history sleuth, is given a chance to rebuild his tattered life as he investigates the magic, mystery and purpose of this rediscovered place.

Layers – both personal and archaeological – are stripped away.

Sometimes the silent voices of our past sing our way to a brighter future. 



“It will take him a little while, he supposes, to get used to living on his own again. Not only that, but living without Velda, who has been a constant in his life for almost half his life, certainly more than half of his adult life.

She’d actually looked a bit tearful as she stood at the front door. “Right, I’ll be off then.” He’d expected less, maybe that she would ‘go shopping’, or have the tribe round to shout derogatory remarks over their shoulders from the living room as he struggled out of the house with the last of his few possessions. A weighty tear trembled in the corner of her eye, about to reach its critical mass. He felt inclined to offer his handkerchief but decided against the gesture. They gave each other a short arm hug. “Take care of yourself then.” The removal van was waiting on the road, the air around filling with an acrid smoke. “Just hope we get there in one piece,” he joked. Velda nodded, a half-smile appearing on her face. The tear nodded too. “Maybe we could email, or something?” Velda nodded again, silently. Marcus bent in and placed a kiss on her powdered cheek and allowed himself the briefest moment to breathe in her smell.

Velda followed him to the car and stood, eyes downcast, as he reversed it out of the drive. She closed the gate behind him; he tooted the horn and gave her a cheery wave. “For goodness’ sake, Velda, buck up old girl. You wanted it this way. What you looking so upset for?” He spoke aloud as he would catch himself doing many times, her presence and familiarity a hard habit to break. He glimpsed in the rearview mirror for a last sight of Belvedere Road, NW11.

Not much given to introspection, that was more Velda’s sort of thing, he did allow himself a cursory check of his emotions as he pulled out behind the van in a break in traffic. Not much to say really, he thought to himself. Funny thing, life.”

Publisher: Silver Wood Books
Publication Year: 2016
Length: 252
ASIN: 1781325391
ISBN: 9781781325391
List Price: £8.99