An ugly duckling, coming-of-age tale of friendship and love
Once there was an ugly duckling girl…
Thirteen-year-old Phyllis has a miserable existence. Viciously bullied at school, she is unloved and unwanted at home and her parents make it very clear that she is an inconvenience.
The only love and attention Phyllis ever receives is from her darling grandmother and her grandmother’s cat – Mr Boots. If not for them, her childhood would be a cold and lonely place. Then tragedy strikes, yet out of this arises a glimmer of hope for the future if Phyllis can only hold on that long.
“I have to be, don’t I? I have four years to wait before my life can begin, so that’s what I have to do … wait four years.”
Upon reaching her eighteenth birthday, Phyllis comes into her inheritance. At last, she can escape the cold disdain of her parents and live her life how she chooses. But frightened of change, Phyllis cannot find a way to make her dreams come true. Desperately lonely, she rescues the quirky Boris from the local cats’ home to be her companion and believes herself content. But life has so much more in store for young Phyllis, providing her with a Pygmalion in the shape of Conrad – the outrageous interior designer and style guru. He takes ugly duckling, Phyllis, under his wing, and, with his guidance, Phyllis shakes off her childhood to emerge as Lili.
“Life is there for the taking, sweetie. You’ve got to get up off your backside and grab it with both hands.”
Beautiful, poised, and confident, Lili sets out to find the friends she so desperately longed for during childhood, and an act of kindness leads her to Amy and Kevin Sinclair. The Sinclair siblings have had a tough couple of years following the death of their parents in a house fire, and financial hardship has meant neither could attain their dreams. Amy failed the exams she needed to attend catering college and become a chef.Her older brother, Kevin, had to give up his place at agricultural college to look after his traumatised sister. Both of them are simply existing, with no one except each other to depend on. Then Lili enters their lives and suddenly this collection of loners learns the value of friendship.
“What’s in a name? Only a label, a front, a brand, it declared to the world who and what you were.”
Lili goes on to meet the exotic and feisty, Essex girl, Lindy. A survivor, Lindy has left behind a mean and poverty-ridden existence to try and make a new life for herself. Becoming friends with Lili opens her eyes to a new way of living, and she embraces the friendship Lili offers her. Lindy is quickly followed by the outspoken Martin, when he is jilted at the alter by his fiancée, and Lili and her friends take him into their group. Finally, there is spoilt rich boy, Johnny. Drifting through his days on a tide of wealthy privilege, it takes Lili to show him that there is more to life than merely wasting time and having fun. Together, this small band of lame ducks and outcasts become so much more than the sum of their parts, and at last, Lili has the friends that the child Phyllis dreamed of having.
” I want to buy you dinner as a way of saying thank you and because, well, because it’s nice to go out with friends.”
Travelling often to London to visit Conrad and his partner, Matthew, it is on one of these trips that Lili attends the 21st birthday party of their friend, Daisy. Rescued from the drunken attentions of a fellow male guest by a mysterious cowboy, who steps from the darkness to save her, Lili is intrigued by this handsome stranger and follows him back to the party. Questioning Conrad, Lili discovers that his name is Jake, he is the cousin of the birthday girl, Daisy, and unfortunately is married to the beautiful and glamorous actress, Vivienne. The biggest bitch that ever drew breath. Putting the whole experience down to a first crush, Lili gets on with her life. Yet, at Daisy’s wedding one year later, fate conspires to ensure that Lili will meet Jake again. When she discovers that sometimes the one thing you want most in life, is the one thing you just can’t have.
“Not yet. I’m not saying no, Lili, I’m saying not yet.”
Becoming Lili is volume one of The Perennials Trilogy, and is a sweeping coming-of-age friendship tale, that delivers all the right feels in all the right places and introduces the reader to the wonderful world of Lili and her friends.
Set against the vibrant backdrop of Britain in the 1990s, it is a story that will leave you hopeful and satisfied.
Available in Paperback and eBook
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