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Release Day for


I hope you are all safe and well and surviving this very strange time we're all living through right now.
I don't know about you but I've been looking for good news stories and jumping at any little chance I can to celebrate. Today I've actually got a big reason to be busting out the champagne: it's the release day for my new novel, The Secret Life of Shirley Sullivan!
I'd love you to celebrate with me if you can. Find out how below!

Lisa xx
Buy Now
The Secret Life of Shirley Sullivan is a charming, nostalgic and heartwarming story for women of any age – and it all begins when 79-year-old Shirley kidnaps her husband from his nursing home for one final adventure . . .
Elderly. Is that how the world sees me? A helpless little old lady? If only they knew. I allow myself a small smirk.'

When Shirley Sullivan signs her 83-year-old husband, Frank, out of the Sunset Lodge Nursing Home, she has no intention of bringing him back. 

For fifty-seven years the couple has shared love, happiness and heartbreak. And while Frank may not know who his wife is these days, he knows he wants to go home. Back to the beach where they met in the early 1960s . . .

So Shirley enacts an elaborate plan to evade the authorities – and their furious daughter, Fiona – to give Frank the holiday he’d always dreamed of.
And, in doing so, perhaps Shirley can make amends for a lifelong guilty secret . . .

Praise for The Secret Life of Shirley Sullivan:
 'With both humour and heart, The Secret Life of Shirley Sullivan takes the reader on a (literal) journey – in a Kombi van! – following one couple’s unconventional love story, and examining the lengths a person will go to to right the wrongs of a lifetime. This is Lisa Ireland’s breakout novel for sure.' Sally Hepworth

'Lisa Ireland’s writing is simply magical, and Shirley’s charming and heartfelt story brought me to tears again and again. The Secret Life of Shirley Sullivan is one of my favourite books, ever.' Kelly Rimmer

'This moving story, celebrating ageing and all types of love, will leave you with a smile on your face and warmth in your heart.' Rachael Johns

I'm very excited to announce that Shirley Sullivan is finally out in the world. You'll find her in stores from today! If you've preordered a digital copy, your book should appear on your device today.

It is an odd time to be releasing a book, and I know many of you will be wondering exactly where you can get hold of a copy. My advice is to call your local bookstore and ask if they have stock. Many local booksellers are providing a delivery service to their customers. You can also order a physical copy online through Booktopia or a number of other retailers. Digital copies are available from all the usual outlets. Click the "Buy Now" button above for links. 


I love a party! So much so that I'm having two online events to celebrate Shirley's launch and they're both happening TODAY. I hope you can join me for one (or both!).
BYO bubbles!

The Secret Life of Shirley Sullivan
Lisa Ireland

Excerpt from Chapter One
Frank is sitting in a wicker chair under the shade of the jacaranda tree. His legs are stretched out in front of him and his trouser legs are rolled up so his skin catches the dappled sunlight. He’s always been a sunworshipper.

My pink-coated lips form a wide smile as I wave to him, but he continues to stare into the middle distance. There’s not a flicker of recognition on his face.

Today is not a good day.

One of the male carers – a new one whose name I can’t recall – places a garden chair next to Frank and beckons for me to sit. I thank him, and he nods and moves away to give us a modicum of privacy. Not that there’s really any such thing in this place.

I sit and turn my head to Frank, resisting the urge to touch him. ‘It’s lovely out here today.’

He looks at me and I see the confusion in his eyes. I think it’s my voice that does it. The sound is familiar but he can’t quite place me. ‘It is indeed.’

I try not to let my disappointment show on my face. I’m grateful for the days that he still recognises me, although they’re happening less and less. It’s been months since he recognised Fiona. I think that’s the reason she keeps finding excuses not to visit. The pain of seeing her beloved daddy like this is more than she can bear. Most of the time I have little patience for her discomfort. ‘Do you think I like seeing him the way he is?’ I’ve said on more than one occasion. ‘This isn’t about us, it’s about your father.’ But on days like today, when Frank’s eyes glaze over and he treats me like a friendly stranger, I resolve to be more sympathetic towards my daughter.

I point to the exposed skin of his legs. ‘I hope you have sunscreen on. Easy to get burned in beautiful weather like this.’

He screws up his nose. ‘Pfft. Sunscreen. Can’t stand the stuff. Makes the sand stick to your skin.’ He smiles indulgently. ‘You sound like my wife. She’s always trying to get me to put on suncream when I’m on patrol. She’s fair-skinned, you see. Only has to look at the sun and she gets burned. But not me. My skin’s tough as old boots. Even if I go a bit pink at first, I end up tanned. My Shirley can’t seem to understand that.’

I bite my tongue and refrain from talking about skin cancer. He’s had half-a-dozen basal cell carcinomas cut out over the past decade, but of course the Frank sitting next to me doesn’t know that. He’s back in his youth.
Instead I say, ‘So you like the beach, then?’

He nods. ‘It’s my second home. I’m a lifesaver, you know, at Bancoora. Lovely little beach. Best spot in the world, if you ask me.’

He closes his eyes for a moment. When he opens them again they’re brighter, as though he’s just had a wonderful idea. ‘Look, you couldn’t do me a favour, could you? You couldn’t give a bloke a lift? I need to get back home to Shirl. She’s probably worried sick by now. I got lost somehow and ended up in this place. I keep telling them that I need to get home, but no one’s listening.’

‘I’m listening.’

He breaks into a heartwarming smile. ‘So you’ll take me home?’

I want to take him in my arms and promise him everything will be all right, but today I’m a stranger to him and I don’t want cause him further distress by crossing any boundaries. The staff tell me when he’s like this it’s best to play along as much as possible. ‘I can’t today,’ I say carefully. ‘I don’t have my car.’

His face falls momentarily before he regains his composure. ‘Tomorrow, then?’ It pains me to hear the desperation in his voice.

‘Yes, love,’ I say, and it’s a blessed relief that this time I don’t have to lie. ‘Tomorrow.’

The story behind the story...

I was inspired to write this story when I found a secret stash of love letters written by my parents to each other during the early part of their relationship. This is one of the photos I found among the letters. I think it was taken around 1961.

Special Offer!

A while after I finished Shirley's story, I realised I was missing her! So I wrote a secret epilogue just for myself. Now I'm offering to share it with you.

Obviously, the epilogue contains spoilers, so I can't print it here. I have set up a secret page on my website that can only be accessed by a special link.

Once you have read THE SECRET LIFE OF SHIRLEY SULLIVAN feel free to message me to ask for the link. I'll need proof that you have read the book, so I'm going to ask you to tell me the last line of the story in your message. Once I know you've read the book I'll send you the link to the epilogue. If you're so inclined, I'd also love you to send a selfie of you with the book that I can publish on my social media. (The selfie is totally optional!)

You can message me via the contact page on my website  or message me via my Facebook page. Or you can simply reply to this email. (But be warned, I don't check the email attached to this newsletter daily, so it might take me a little while to respond if you choose to message me this way!)

Giveaway in the Facebook Group!

To celebrate reaching our 1000 member milestone, we are running a giveaway on the Secret Life of Authors Facebook Page.
Not a member? Click here to join!

Lisa Ireland

Copyright © 2020 Sally Hepworth, All rights reserved.

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