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Novel set in London (“…an emotional chase..”)

20th September 2015

Ignoring Gravity by Sandra Danby, novel set in London (Wimbledon and more)


Ignoring Gravity, first in the ‘Rose Haldane: Identity Detective’ series by Sandra Danby, is set in London. From Wimbledon, around the corner from the All England Lawn Tennis Club [scene of the annual Wimbledon Tennis Championships], to a gritty newspaper office in Docklands next to a biscuit factory, via a very cool apartment complex beside the River Thames, this novel moves up and down the train tracks and tube lines of London.

Southfields - I imagined Rose living in an upstairs flat, here

© Sandra Danby : could Rose have lived in an upstairs flat here?

For Rose, a 35-year-old journalist, life is stuck on repeat every day: sitting on the train from Wimbledon to Waterloo, then catching the Jubilee Line to Docklands where she works at the London Herald. Until the Sunday, after lunch at her father’s house in leafy Richmond with her sister Lily, she finds something that shatters all she has believed about her family, about herself. Sorting out the wardrobes of her mother’s clothes and bagging up things for the charity shop – Diana died of breast cancer just months before – Rose and Lily discover a pile of diaries. In one, Rose reads the words “17th April, 1968. I’m going to adopt her baby when he is born. It’ll be my precious secret.”

These words send Rose on an emotional chase around London, trying to find the truth of her birth while trying not to blame her oh-so-proper mother Diana for lying. Lying for 35 years. Rose talks to her father, her grandmother: did they know? And if Diana was not her real mother, then who was her father? Everything Rose knew, has been turned upside down. A bright light in Rose’s darkness, is Nick Maddox, a businessman Rose has to interview. He has an annoying habit of turning up at the wrong time, but he seems helpful and interested, and is not put off by seeing her at her worst. With his support, and that of her best friend Maggie, Rose identifies her birth mother. But her birth father is still a mystery. Tired of searching, she decides to be happy as she is. Standing on the balcony of Nick’s apartment, overlooking the Thames, she takes the decision to look forward, to be positive. But then there is another bombshell.

oak tree on Wimbledon Common - inspirartion for the cover design

© Sandra Danby : Oak tree on Wimbledon Common, inspiration for the cover design

Author Sandra Danby knows Wimbledon well, she lived and worked there for many years. Rose goes jogging around Wimbledon and Southfields and Danby too walked around Wimbledon Common as a break from writing. “It was the oak trees that actually gave me the idea for the cover design. I was writing about Rose’s family tree, and trees are a symbol of growth, of connection, and so it seemed logical to put a tree on the front cover.”

It is clear Danby is fond of Wimbledon. “Like Rose, we lived in a flat near the All England Lawn Tennis Club. Early chapters of the book were written in a coffee shop in Southfields, I imagined Rose living in an upstairs flat in one of the houses. Tennis is a big part of the area’s atmosphere. We soon learned that the best way to avoid the traffic jams during the annual tennis tournament, was to only venture out in the car once the tennis matches were underway. I think a lot of people avoided the area, expecting it to be one huge traffic jam. But one morning I needed a pint of milk. It was before 8am and pouring with rain, so I thought I would be safe; surely no-one would be driving to the tennis that morning when it was raining? But I didn’t account for the early-arrivers at the Tennis Club. As I pulled out of the parking space in my silver Mini [Rose drives a black Mini], someone ran across the road in front of me. I jammed on the brakes and looked at the man I nearly ran into: Pat Cash, Wimbledon Champion 1987.”

Sandra Danby Author - photo Simon Cooper-1

Sandra Danby (photo Simon Cooper)

You can follow Sandra at Facebook, Twitter and on her blog. Want a quick taste of Ignoring Gravity? Watch her book trailer. Connectedness, book two in the ‘Rose Haldane: Identity Detective’ series, will be published in 2016.

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