Pippin Pearmain is filming a part in an indie film while also attending a music festival and working on her ballet, Delphine. Mysteries surround her, but she hasn’t much time to sort them out. She has the offer of a puppy, a reunion with an old friend, a new agent to deal with, and a new plan for a family heirloom. With all this going on, she still has to consider her dwindling family, her very strange cats, and what, if anything, is going to change in her future.
A few weeks ago, her cottage, the cats, and her bucket list were enough. Now she’s making a comeback but where will it take her? She can go home to her reclusive existence, but there’s so much more to life than wrestling with cranky lemon trees. Pip thinks she might be up to it, but what if she’s wrong? Yet…not so long ago she went overboard from the yacht Tulpenmanie. She survived the Experience and thrived in the aftermath, so maybe the challenges ahead will be navigable after all.
Pippin Picotee Pearmain should have slept poorly on her second night on Delphinium Island. She’d spent a packed day among new acquaintances and debriefed with one old friend she hadn’t seen in twenty-five years.
Her brain fizzed with new information, ideas, possibilities, and the nervous feeling that came from juggling too many mental apples and trying not to drop any on her neat and serviceable toes.
Knowing she had a snowball’s chance in a hot bath of getting any sleep while her mind was rampaging up, down, and around like a wasp in a bottle, Pip decided to make a list to sort the chaos into order. She loved lists. They were soothing.
After a chaotic supper with her agent and the cheerful and talkative cast of Half-Life of the Lost, she retreated to cabin six, where she and Magda were living for the duration of the festival.
Magda, being more gregarious and more inclined for networking than Pip was, stayed out to schmooze with—someone or other. Pip didn’t much care who it was and didn’t bother to enquire. She trusted her agent would be happily occupied for at least an hour while she wound down and generally stabilised her mind..
In cabin six, and finally alone, Pip put the kettle on and laid out the caddy of camomile tea she’d brought from home beside a personalised teacup, unexpectedly provided by Dance in Tune. It was wreathed in music notes with the festival logo and a green star outline with a streaky apple inside. Pip loved it all the more when she turned it upside down and found the maker’s mark—the familiar be-smocked hob man with a giant ear of corn. Faintly discernible beneath it was the monogram AC.
Knowing the potter, or at least the painter, was her friend Jane’s beau who had taken her riding gave the cup added value to Pip.
While the tea steeped, she stood in the centre of the cabin, waiting for her ears to stop zinging from all the chatter, music, and laughter of a dance festival. It was wonderful, but also daunting for someone who lived in a cottage by the sea with three cats—one of which was made of pottery—a terrifying lemon tree, a sly gooseberry bush, a lot of still-packed boxes and crates, and a placid, blue-tongued lizard.
When her heartrate settled, she did a few pliés to quieten her mind. Then she poured her tea and took her feint-ruled pad and green pen out of her messenger bag.
She settled on the bed with the tea on a table beside her, paged through her list of beautiful buckets, past secrets written down by her cousins Lupin and Jan, and by Zach Rowan, who crewed the yacht Tulpenmanie. She paged beyond the work she’d done on three separate ballets, and on past a list of pros and cons she’d written down regarding the offer of a puppy from Gillan St Ives.
She had the new Treadwell bucket to add to her list, but she decided to leave that until tomorrow, or maybe even next week when her mind was less busy.
Having finally reached a clear page, she admired it briefly. She knew some people found blank pages daunting, but she never had. Blank pages were like holidays to her—full of opportunities and potential wonder. Unless they were shopping lists, of course. Pip rarely bothered with those, because she always bought the same range of provisions from Jellico Bay Essentials. She could trolley-up her regular provisions in fifteen minutes—providing Mister Essentials had been good enough to leave his aisles alone. Every now and again he got spring fever, winter woes, summer scrambles, or autumn annoyance and shifted the contents of aisle nine somewhere else. Pip didn’t approve of that because it bothered her routine.
She took up her green ink pen and wrote Things to Do in her tiny script.
It was her habit to start writing her lists immediately, but this time she waited for a few seconds to see what item on her agenda might pop up first.
No point in putting them down in order of importance…and no need to consider must-do, want-to-do and urgent-or-not.
She wrote down a number one and, after a little more thought, she wrote down Family.
Might as well get it over with.
She breathed in and added, slowly, Regarding the Laurel-Pearmain-de-Leon Family.
Pippin Picotee Pearmain. Me. Myself.
She felt awkward at putting her name down at the head of the list, but she was the eldest of them now, and so might be considered the head of the family by herself if not by the others.
She added her age—sixty-six. Then she filled in a few more facts. Performer. Single. Lives in Lemonwood Cottage, Jellico Bay, Tasmania, with three cats. Temporarily working on a film—Half-Life of the Lost—at the Dance in Tune festival on Delphinium Island. First formal job in eleven years. It feels both familiar and peculiar. Just like life, I suppose.
The second name had to be Cousin Jan’s.
Juniper “Jan” Sharman nee de Leon. Sixty-four. Author, known as Juniper Gin. I think this role is comparatively recent. Must ask her when and why and how it came about. Married to Mark Sharman since the late 1970s. She married him the year I was working on Ruby Shoes Emporium. Lives—