The World at My Feet by Catherine Isaac – extract

Catherine Isaac is the author of nine novels under the name Jane Costello and You, Me, Everything and Messy, Wonderful Us as Catherine Isaac.  Her latest novel, The World at My Feet was published by Simon and Schuster on 18 March 2021.

Today I have an extract from the book.

One of the most common dreams you can have involves flying. Imagine that. Feeling your heels rise and a lightness in your limbs, before registering a gap between the ground and your feet. Then you’d look down to see they are no longer touching and at first hover, drifting across your back garden in a gentle ascent. You’d reach the trees and rise high above the lawn and it’s then that you would begin to soar, over rooftops, hills and forests, with the chill of night air on your arms. You wouldn’t feel afraid, just elated.

I’d love to dream like that, just once. To be Supergirl, or Wendy clutching Peter Pan’s hand, swooping in the dark as the faint light from a sleeping city twinkles below. But then, I’d happily take any of the themes that skip through other people’s minds: being naked in public, having my teeth fall out, sitting an exam on a subject I know nothing about – standard Freudian fare that supposedly says something deep about our fears or shortcomings. But when the arms of sleep fold over me each night, my subconscious leads me somewhere else entirely.

My dreams begin with walls, though they’re not like those in my bedroom at home, which are smooth and matt with designer paint. Next, I register the noise, or lack of, a deadening, black hum that hurts my ears, despite the feeling that I am not alone.

By now, I am already terrified, gripped by the over- whelming feeling of impending threat. It’s not just the fear of violence that smothers me though, it’s something else more abstract.

Here, I have nothing. No possessions. No family. No identity. In this dream, I am no longer sure if I’m even human.

Out of nowhere, the face of a girl appears by my bed. My heart clangs and I grip the edge of my mattress. I can feel her breath on my skin and see the outline of her hair in the dim light. I already know every detail of her sweet face. It is more familiar than my own, with almond-shaped eyes in a dark brown hue, high cheekbones and a defiant smile that reveals two new, uneven incisors.

I push myself up in bed, briefly relieved that it’s her, but she raises a finger to her lips, silencing whatever she thinks I am about to say. She shakes her head. Blinks away the oily glint on her eyes. Before I can ask what’s going on, she reaches out and wraps her arms around me, hugging me tighter than seems possible for someone so small.

A noise startles her and she looks up quickly, scrambling away from the bed. I can see the rapid rise and fall of her chest before she looks at me again, then turns and begins to tiptoe away. By the time she’s at the window, I already know what she is about to do, but I can only watch as she pushes it open.

I want to scream now, so loud that it might tear my lungs. But I can’t. She climbs onto the sill and pauses, long enough for me to think she might change her mind. But she never does, no matter how many times I have this dream. Instead, she simply looks down and jumps into the abyss.

About the Book

The secrets that bind us can also tear us apart…

1990. Harriet is a journalist. Her job takes her to dangerous places, where she asks questions and tries to make a difference. But when she is sent to Romania, to the state orphanages the world is only just learning about, she is forced to rethink her most important rule.

2018. Ellie is a gardener. Her garden is her sanctuary, her pride and joy. But, though she spends long days outdoors, she hasn’t set foot beyond her gate for far too long. Now someone enters her life who could finally be the reason she needs to overcome her fears.

From post-revolution Romania to the idyllic English countryside, The World at My Feet is the story of two women, two worlds, and a journey of self-discovery that spans a lifetime.

About the Author

Catherine Isaac was born in Liverpool and was a journalist before she became an author. She wrote her first novel, Bridesmaids, under the pseudonym Jane Costello and her eight subsequent books were all Sunday Times bestsellers. You Me Everything was her first work writing as Catherine Isaac. It was selected by the Richard & Judy Book Club, has been translated into twenty-four languages and a movie adaptation is in development by Lionsgate and Temple Hill. In 2019 she won the Romantic Novelists’ Association award for Popular Romantic Fiction. She lives in Liverpool with her husband Mark and three sons.

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