Friday, July 22, 2022

The Wrong 'Un by Catherine Evans - Book Tour + Giveaway

The Wrong’un

Meet the Newells, a big family of good lookers and hard grafters. From their sleepy working class backwater, the siblings break into Oxford academia, London’s high life, the glossy world of magazine publishing and the stratospheric riches of New York’s hedge funds.

Then there’s Paddy, the wrong’un in their midst, who prefers life’s underbelly.

As things fall apart around his sister Bea, is Paddy behind it all? And why does matriarch Edie turn a blind eye to her son’s malevolence? Will she stand by and watch while he wrecks the lives of her other children? Just how much is she willing to sacrifice to protect her son?

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Edie, now elderly, looks back on a childhood incident involving her five sons and her youngest child, Bea, then a baby. It’s apparent that Paddy bullies and victimizes the smaller children, but Edie turns a blind eye to his behaviour, as she is plagued with guilt. She had Paddy while still single, and gave him up at birth before she met and married her husband, George. She admits this to George only after their first child together is born. George agrees to adopt Paddy, who joins the family when he is four years old. Paddy’s behavior becomes a serious source of tension between them.


The boys were always ranged against Paddy.

I remember hearing one of their fights breaking out in the garden. I was edgy that day. Maybe I had the curse. Will and Sam were yelling at Paddy. The other boys all stood around Sonny, who held a crying Bea in his arms.

‘How would you like it if I stomped on your hand?’ Sonny screamed.

‘She was in the way,’ Paddy said. ‘She’s always in the way.’

‘She’s a baby!’

Ganging up on Paddy again. I couldn’t bear it.

‘What’s going on?’ I took Bea from Sonny’s arms. She kicked off again for my benefit.

‘Paddy stomped on Bea’s hand,’ said Sonny in righteous fury.

‘I’m sure it was an accident,’ I said. ‘Paddy, come and say sorry to Bea.’

I lowered Bea to Paddy’s level so he could kiss her. He puckered up but she whipped her head away from him. The others started in.

‘That was no accident. I’m telling you, Mam, he did it on purpose,’ said Sonny. ‘He’s always hurting her. And Colin and Will. Anyone smaller than him.’

‘You’re smaller than me,’ said Paddy.

‘Yeah, but I can fight back, can’t I?’ His eyes blazed.

‘Enough!’ I cried. ‘Now. I’m putting Bea down here, out of the way. Play nicely, all of you. Paddy, be more careful with the little ones. And the rest of you stop pointing fingers.’

‘But Mam—’ said Will.

‘No buts!’ I said. ‘More fighting and I’ll make you play inside.’

Sonny muttered something. I rounded on him.

‘Sonny, what did you say?’

He glared at me, then looked away. It wasn’t five minutes before war broke out again.

‘Every time you jump over her, you kick her one.’

‘Shut up, twat. It’s not my fault she moved.’

I’d told the boys time and again they shouldn’t be jumping over Bea’s head. Paddy was a bit accident-prone where she was concerned, but all the same. They were always leaving him out. I marched downstairs again. I decided to pretend I hadn’t heard Paddy’s language. George was always on at him about it. It was a drag on my soul knowing where he’d learned it, and more besides.

‘What are you warring over now?’ I asked. The boys looked sheepishly in my direction.

‘They jumped over Bea’s head,’ said Paddy. ‘I told them they mustn’t.’

Liar!’ Sonny bellowed.

‘Enough!’ I cried. ‘How many times have I told you not to jump over Bea’s head? And don’t call your brother a liar. I won’t have it, d’you hear me?’

I looked at the faces of my simmering brood. ‘And Paddy, don’t tell tales.’ I added lamely. The boys seized on what I’d said.

‘Yeah, Paddy you arsewipe,’ said Sonny.

I grabbed him by the shoulder. ‘What did you call him? Do you want a mouthful of soap?’

We glared at each other.

‘Read my lips,’ I hissed. ‘I’ll not have any screaming, nor any fighting or jumping over the baby’s head. Understand?’

‘But Mam—’ said Paddy.

I rounded on him too. ‘I said shut it!’ I was hoping they’d be united by being ranged against me. A country at war, and all that. ‘I don’t want to hear another word.’ They glowered at me. I looked at their little frowning faces in turn. Nobody said anything at first. Then Will piped up.

‘He likes hurting her,’ said Will. ‘Why d’you let him, Mam?’

I felt like he’d slapped me. So I slapped him. Right across the face. Bea started bellowing, as if I’d hit her, which set Colin off. Will stared at me, then he lifted his hand to his cheek. I looked down at my stinging palm as if it belonged to someone else. If he’d only cried I could have done something, put my arms round him, said sorry; but he didn’t. Sonny stared at me too. He put his hand on Will’s shoulder. Sam picked Bea up and tried to shush her and put his free arm round Colin. Colin turned to him and clung to his leg, bawling for all he was worth. Paddy gave nothing away, as per usual.

I stalked back inside. I willed Paddy to stay with the others but he followed me in, marking himself out even more.


Author Bio – Catherine Evans is the author of The Wrong’un, and Editor of fictionjunkies, which publishes book and short stories online by authors around the world. She’s a trustee of the Chipping Norton Literary Festival, and lives in Oxfordshire. She’s married with a daughter and three stepdaughters.

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