Innocence by Kathleen TessaroInnocence by Kathleen Tessaro


byKathleen Tessaro

Paperback | May 23, 2005

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IT’S 1987 and Evie is leaving home for the first time, headed for London to study acting. Along with her fellow students and roommates—Imogene (a born-again Laura Ashley poster child and frustrated virgin)and Robbie (a native New Yorker, budding bohemian and very much not a virgin)— Evie is determined to make her mark, both on stage and off.

But then life and love, in the shape of struggling rock musician Jake Albery, intervene—and everything changes. Fourteen years later, Evie is stuck. She’s now a single mother teaching drama classes, her dreams long since abandoned. Robbie is dead, killed in car accident, and Imo has lost touch. Then a friendship from the past comes to haunt Evie. Literally. And suddenly everything is about to change again.

A wonderful follow-up to the bestselling Elegance, Innocence is the perfect summer novel about true love, true friends and the art of being true to yourself.

KATHLEEN TESSARO is originally from Pennsylvania, and she studied drama at Carnegie-Mellon University. After 10 years of working as an actress, she trained as a drama teacher and a voice coach before starting to write. Elegance, her first novel,received critical acclaim in Canada, the US and the UK, reaching the number two spot on the...
Title:InnocenceFormat:PaperbackDimensions:305 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 1 inPublished:May 23, 2005Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0002005468

ISBN - 13:9780002005463

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Read from the Book

Chapter ExcerptChapter OneI'm seated next to a redheaded woman on the plane. My supper of creamed chicken royal and boiled rice sits untouched in front of me. Instead, I stare at my new Keith Haring Swatch watch (a going-away gift from my boyfriend, Jonny). It's my first trip abroad. In only eight hours and twenty-two minutes, we'll be landing in London and a whole new chapter of my life will begin. Who can eat chicken at a time like this?The redhead can. She's an old hand at foreign travel. Lighting anothercigarette, she smiles at me."Oh, London's great! Great pubs. And you can have fish and chips. Chips is English for French fries," she translates. "They put salt and vinegar on them over there.""Ewwww!" I say, ever the sophisticate."But it's good! You have them with mushy peas.""Mushy what?""Peas!" she laughs. "They're sort of smashed up. You don't have tohave them.""Oh, but I want to!" I assure her quickly. "I want to try everything!"She exhales. "Where are you from?""Eden, Ohio.""Is that near Akron?""Actually, it's not near anything.""And what are you doing? Studying?""Drama. I'm going to be an actress. A classical actress," I add, just incase she gets the idea I'm going to sell out. "I've been accepted into theActors Drama Workshop Academy. Maybe you've heard of it?" She shakes her head. "Is that like RADA?""Almost.""Well, you're a pretty girl. I'm sure you'll be a big star." And shenods, drumming her long, pink nails against the shared armrest. "Yeah,London will be the making of you. It's a long way from Ohio, kid."That's exactly what I'm hoping for.I don't fit in in Ohio. I don't fit in anywhere yet. But back home,nobody seems to get me -- apart from my boyfriend, Jonny. He's going tostudy graphic arts at CMU next term. He understands what it's like to bean artistic soul trapped in a working class town. That's why we get on sowell. I pull out his going-away letter to me and read it one more time.I know this is going to be a completely amazing adventure for you, babe.And I can't wait to hear each installment. Write often. Never lose faith inyourself. And think of me slaving away over my drawing board, dreamingof you and your perfect, beautiful face until you get back ... safe andwarm in my arms. I'm so proud of you.My darling Jonny.We've been dating for nearly two years. When I get back, we're goingto live together. In New York City, if things work out. Already I can seeus: drinking coffee in the mornings, padding about in our loft apartmentoverlooking Central Park -- sometimes there's a dog in the picture,sometimes it's just us.Folding the letter carefully, I slip it back into the side pocket of mycarry-on bag.I think of my parents, standing next to one another at the departuregate of Cleveland Airport. They just couldn't understand why I neededto go so far away; why anyone would ever want to leave the States. I'mthe only person in my family with a passport.There's a whole, entire world bursting with beautiful language,enormous, crushing emotions and stories so powerful, they break your heart in two -- just not in Eden, Ohio. How can I explain to them that Iwant to be part of it? To rub up against the culture that inspiredShakespeare and Sheridan, Coward and Congreve; the wit of Wilde, thesatire of Shaw, the sheer wickedness of Orton ... I want to see it, touchit; experience it all firsthand instead of reading about it in books, inbetween taking orders at Doughnut Express.And at last, I'm on the verge.Leaning back in my seat, I gaze out of the window. Somewhere, farbelow, my parents are driving back home now, thinking about what tohave for dinner. And just beyond this expanse of blue, on a small, greenisland, people I've yet to meet are drifting off to sleep, dreaming of whattomorrow might hold.The stewardess leans over, collecting my tray of untouched food."Not hungry?"I shake my head.The next meal I eat will be fish and chips.With plenty of mushy peas.The Belle View Hotel and Guesthouse in Russell Square is considerablydarker, colder and altogether more brown than the pictures in thebrochure. The rooms, so spacious and inviting in the leaflet, are cell-likeand lavishly appointed with tea and coffee making facilities (a kettle andteacup on a plastic tray) and a basin in the corner. Boiling hot watersteams out of one tap, icy cold from the other. A certain amount ofspeed and physical endurance is required to wash your face but thereward is a genuine feeling of accomplishment.However, the reality of shared bathroom facilities is another matter.No amount of counselling could prepare me for crouching naked in ashallow tub of tepid water while three large German businessmenwrapped in nothing but old bathrobes lurk outside the door. The wholeexperience is like a trip to the gynaecologist's, simultaneously intimateand deeply unpleasant. The English must have a relationship with theirbodies that's alien to me; like a couple who are divorced but still livingtogether in the same house; forced to be polite to someone they hate.After bathing, and making myself an instant coffee (breakfast withthe Germans is a bridge too far), the time has come. I'm ready to visit the offices of the Actors Drama Workshop Academy in North Londonand introduce myself to the people who are going to mould the rest ofmy life ...The foregoing is excerpted from Innocence by Kathleen Tessaro. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022