ShortBookandScribes #BlogTour #Extract from If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin #MeetConstanceLittle
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin. This is a book I’ve been looking forward to reading for ages. I’m actually reading it at the moment so will have my review to share with you very soon but in the meantime I have a fantastic extract for you to enjoy today. My thanks to Megan Denholm at ED PR for the place on the tour and the proof copy of the book.
What if the problem with your love life is you?
If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin is an all-consuming novel about loneliness, obsession and how far we go for the ones we love.
Samuel, the day we met I knew I’d finally found what I’ve been waiting for.
Happiness, at last.
Then you left me.
And now I am alone.
Everyone I love leaves in the end.
But not this time.
I’m not giving up on us.
I’m not giving up on you.
When you love someone, you never let them go.
That’s why for me, this is just beginning.
If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin was published on 9th July by Mantle, priced £14.99 in hardback.
They all stared.
The group of girls cooing over the fruits of their Christmas shopping trip stopped and slapped each other’s arms. The Marrieds ceased to argue and held hands. The reading man lost his page.
I stood in the carriage amongst them.
A young suity-booty City Prick and a Sloane Ranger with a leg-kicking infant on her lap parted ways to expose a seat for me. I don’t believe out of politeness. Most likely out of fear, confusion. The fact my lightheaded sways made it probable I’d fall their way.
Regardless of the reason, I was grateful, and squeezed my white taffeta-engulfed body between them, whilst attempting to keep the material under control, which proved impossible as the voluminous skirt overlapped onto them both.
The child, who I could now see was a girl, stroked my dress with her saliva- ridden fingers.
‘Look at the princess, Mummy.’
The mother buried her spawn’s head into her blazer, clearly wishing to God she’d just got a black cab as usual. However, her utter Englishness forced her to smile at me. I returned a semi-version, but was conscious of my front tooth, hanging by a minute thread of gum. It hurt. I closed my mouth and looked down at the blood covering my chest. It was odd how it had taken more to the embroidery than the taffeta.
Raising my head, I could see in the distorted window’s reflection, Sloanie and City Prick looking at each other behind me in wide-eyed horror. Though they appeared to be strangers, I’d bonded them. Beyond their ghostly images was the huge High Street Kensington sign. It was telling me goodbye. I remember thinking I’d write a book about it one day. ‘The Fucked Girl on the Train’.
As we pulled away from the station, eyes screwed, faces twisted with calculations as they tried to decipher what had happened. Was I the jilter or the jiltee? But, as you know more than anyone, Dr Franco, people are rarely what they appear to be on the surface. The Marrieds may have in fact been illicit lovers, the shopping girls been out on the steal.
Sloanie pressed her Chanel silk scarf against her nose. It was my vomit-laced veil she could smell. I was tempted to turn and tell her everything. Ask for her help. But I couldn’t because I didn’t know her. I didn’t know anyone anymore.
She wouldn’t have given a shit anyway. Her only concern being I didn’t scare Mini Sloane. I smiled at the kid. It cried.
I was already old news. People stopped gawking or were doing so more subtly at least. They returned to their arguing, laughing, avoiding. Heads magnetically drawn down to phones. But then came the flashes. There was no doubt I’d feature heavily in conversations that day. Photo evidence was needed. I’d be trending on Twitter.
Reading Man glanced up from his book – The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Perhaps he was wondering which one my habit was. But then that’s what I love about London. Rather than staring why didn’t they ask if I was okay? I was not fucking okay, people. In Manchester, I’d have been in someone’s house by then, being handed a cup of tea with six sugars and a Blue Riband.
The tube slowed again. We were at Earls Court now. I could see them on the platform waiting for me.
My tooth dropped onto my lap.
Charlotte Levin has been shortlisted for the Andrea Badenoch Award, part of the New Writers North Awards, and for the Mslexia Short Story Competition. Charlotte is the director of an exhibitions company and lives in Manchester. If I Can’t Have You is her first novel. After her parents both died only months apart, Charlotte channelled her grief into writing – she was inspired to dig out an old version of this book and finish rewriting it.