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Praise for Everything is Beautiful

‘This book quietly took hold of me and wouldn’t let me go

until I turned the final page. I loved stepping into Amy’s world, with all its treasures, and it was a joy to see her beginning to make space for herself’

Beth O’Leary, author of The Flatshare

‘My book of the year! An absolute must read. Everything is Beautiful is everything you’ll want in a book. I was pulled into this story from the very first page and didn’t want it to end’

Lauren North, author of The Perfect Betrayal

‘Heart-warming and thought-provoking, a mystery with a difference. It’s beautifully constructed around the everyday items its central character hoards, as she slowly uncovers the secrets of her past. I loved it’

Andrea Mara, author of The Other Side of the Wall

‘A truly remarkable book that had me hooked from the start and racing to the end. Beautifully written’

Jenni Keer, author of The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker

‘A gently absorbing entry into the mystery-uplit canon’

Vaseem Khan, author of The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra

‘I loved this charming, endearing novel . . . it will melt even the hardest of hearts . . . If ever there was a time for a book like Everything is Beautiful to lift us above the everyday doom and gloom, it is now’

Joanna Nell, author of The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village

‘A stunning book – intricate, beautifully written and thought-provoking. Packed with psychological realism, Eleanor Ray has perfectly captured how it feels to not quite fit in, to live with emotional baggage, to not know how to let go of the past. It’s heart-breaking in parts but ultimately delivers one of the most poignant and heart-warming stories in recent years. Absolutely brilliant and a must-read’

MW Craven, author of The Puppet Show,

CWA Gold Dagger winner

‘This book is a tonic for the soul’

Lesley Kara, author of The Rumour

‘I loved every bit of it. I think the term in book reviewer lingo is “utterly captivated” – and I was, as it was not only so beautifully written but the story was so good, too’

Fliss Chester, author of A Dangerous Goodbye

‘Beautifully written and thought-provoking’

Katie Fforde, author of A Rose Petal Summer

‘A charming debut that glints in the sunshine just waiting to be found and cherished. A mystery that keeps you guessing until the end, a chocolate box of supporting characters, and a leading lady who you’re rooting for with every page. A joy to read, and very beautiful indeed’

Lisa Dickenson, author of My Sisters and Me

PIATKUS

First published in Great Britain in 2021 by Piatkus

Copyright © Eleanor Ray, 2021

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

ISBN: 978-0-349-42740-9

Piatkus

An imprint of

Little, Brown Book

Group Carmelite House

50 Victoria Embankment

London EC4Y 0DZ

An Hachette UK Company

www.hachette.co.uk

www.littlebrown.co.uk

Contents

Chapter one

Chapter two

Chapter three

Chapter four

Chapter five

Chapter six

Chapter seven

Chapter eight

Chapter nine

Chapter ten

Chapter eleven

Chapter twelve

Chapter thirteen

Chapter fourteen

Chapter fifteen

Acknowledgement

For Susan, Teddy and Violet

It really was too much. Amy’s colleagues were nice enough, in their way, but she’d spent all the working week with them. Surely on Friday evening she should be free to go home, take off her shoes and relax on her sofa. Alone.

But here she was. Standing in a cloud of cigarette smoke outside a crowded pub, shoes cutting into her feet, being jostled by people struggling to carry a round of three pints in two hands.

Something was bound to get broken. Amy felt her body tense in anticipation, and she clutched her warm glass of Prosecco closer to her chest.

‘It’s a lovely change to have you out with us, Amy,’ said Mr Trapper, one of the eponymous partners in Trapper, Lemon and Hughes, the medium and not-at-all-growing firm of financial advisers where Amy ran the admin team. ‘Good to let our hair down once in a while.’ He laughed, tapping his balding head to signal it was a joke at his own expense. Amy’s dark hair stayed tightly pulled back in a ponytail. ‘Builds morale,’ he added. He had a Prosecco bottle in hand and proceeded to refill Amy’s glass.

‘I couldn’t miss Emma’s leaving drinks,’ said Amy. She’d tried. When five o’clock came she’d stood up, shaken Emma’s hand and wished her all the best for the future. Duty done. But Emma had clung to her, insisting that she come to the drinks. Amy couldn’t for the life of her work out why Emma seemed to think they were friends; Amy had been nothing but businesslike. She’d given her adequate instruction on what her role was to be and what was expected of her. She’d declined all the meeting requests for awfulsounding ‘girls’ lunches’, and she’d certainly ignored all of the little messages with smiley-face emojis on the office instant-messaging system that some of the team used to waste their time.

Thinking about it, she had made the mistake of once making Emma a cup of tea when she found her crying in the toilets, presumably the result of a boyfriend’s actions. She’d even patted her gently on the back. And now in return she could see her plans for a comfortable evening dissolving like the Alka-Seltzer poor Emma would need the next morning.

Mr Trapper moved on to refill more glasses, and Amy was left on her own for a moment. She glanced at her watch. She’d been here forty-five minutes. Now was

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