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Authors: Barbara Taylor Bradford

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Secrets From the Past

BOOK: Secrets From the Past
5.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

For Bob, with all my love

Table of Contents

Title Page


Author’s Note

Part One: Snapshot Memories: Manhattan, March 2011

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Part Two: Personal Close-Ups: Venice, April

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Part Three: Revealing Angles: Nice, April

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Part Four: A Single Frame Tells It All: Nice/New York, May/June

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Part Five: Candid Images: Libya, July/August

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-One

Chapter Forty-Two

Part Six: Out of Film: Venice, August 2011

Chapter Forty-Three

Chapter Forty-Four

Chapter Forty-Five

Chapter Forty-Six

Epilogue: Nice, October 2011



Books by Barbara Taylor Bradford


About the Publisher


have been a journalist all of my life. I started my writing career on the
Yorkshire Evening Post
in Leeds. I became a cub reporter when I was sixteen, women’s page editor at eighteen and graduated to London’s Fleet Street when I was twenty. I was fashion editor of a women’s magazine before returning to newspapers at twenty-one, as a feature writer for the
London Evening News
. I have always been at home in a newsroom and was happy to go back to one.

Although I have spent the last thirty-odd years writing novels, I have continued to be a journalist and still write for newspapers and magazines. I owe a lot to journalism, and to other journalists, not the least when doing research for this book.

I am particularly indebted to those war correspondents and war photographers who have so courageously covered the wars in the Middle East over the past few years. The Arab Spring began in December of 2010, when a young Tunisian man, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire in protest of his mistreatment by a local policewoman. He ignited the revolution in his country and brought down the Tunisian government, which fell after his death in January of 2011.

After uprisings broke out in Tunisia, they quickly spread to Egypt, Libya and then Syria. Being a fan of news shows, I constantly watched television coverage, and voraciously read newspapers and magazines. I wanted to know as much I could about the Arab Spring in the early part of 2011, since I was about to start writing this novel featuring a woman war photographer.

In the summer of 2011 my husband and I were in France, and my routine remained the same. I read every newspaper available every day, and part of the day we were both glued to the television set watching the coverage on Sky News, the BBC, ITN, CNN and the American networks when we could get them. The Libyan war was at its height that summer, and we witnessed it without being actually there in Libya.

I could not have written the Libyan section of this book without the television coverage by such correspondents as Lara Logan of CBS, Christiane Amanpour of CNN, Richard Pendlebury of the
Daily Mail
, and Marie Colvin of the
Sunday Times
, and her photographer Paul Conroy. Their graphic reporting was extraordinary and it gave me the information and photographs required to create the scenes of the Libyan war for this novel.

I was stunned when the courageous Marie Colvin was tragically killed in Homs, Syria on 22 February 2012. She will be mourned forever by her family and friends, her colleagues and fellow journalists, myself included. Intrepid, intelligent, and humane, she was a woman who had defied the odds for years. Her brilliant reporting of war atrocities saved many lives, and we will all remember how she insisted that she had to get the truth out, so that the world knew what was happening. She succeeded. And died for it. And for that reason, amongst others, Marie Colvin will never be forgotten.

Snapshot Memories:
Manhattan, March 2011

In my own very self, I am part of my family.

D. H. Lawrence,

Memories of love abound,

In my heart and in my mind.

They give me comfort, keep me sane,

And lift my spirits up again.


Snapshot Memories:
Manhattan, March 2011

In my own very self, I am part of my family.

D. H. Lawrence,

Memories of love abound,

In my heart and in my mind.

They give me comfort, keep me sane,

And lift my spirits up again.



t was a beautiful day. The sky was a huge arc of delphinium blue, cloudless, and shimmering with bright sunlight above the soaring skyline of Manhattan. The city where I had lived, off and on, for most of my life, was looking its best on this cold Saturday morning.

As I walked up Sutton Place, returning to my apartment, I began to shiver. Gusts of strong wind were blowing off the East River, and I was glad I was wearing jeans instead of a skirt, and warm clothes. Still shivering, I turned up the collar of my navy-blue pea jacket and wrapped my cashmere scarf tighter around my neck.

It was unusually chilly for March. On the other hand, I was enjoying my walk after being holed up for four days endeavouring to finish a difficult chapter.

Although I was a photojournalist and photographer by profession, I’d recently decided to write a book, my first. Having hit a difficult part earlier this week, I’d been worrying it to death for days, like a dog with a bone. Finally I’d got it right last night. It felt good to get out, to stretch my legs, to look around me and to remind myself that there was a big wide world out here.

I increased my pace. Despite the sun, the wind was bitter. The weather seemed to be growing icier by the minute, and I hurried faster, almost running, needing to get home to the warmth.

My apartment was on the corner of Sutton and East Fifty-Seventh, and I was relieved when it came into view. Once the traffic light changed, I dashed across the street and into my building, exclaiming to the doorman, as I sped past him, ‘It’s Arctic weather, Sam.’

‘It is, Miss Stone. You’re better off staying inside today.’

I nodded, smiled, headed for the elevator. Once inside my apartment I hung up my scarf and pea jacket in the hall cupboard, went into the kitchen, put the kettle on for tea and headed for my office.

I glanced at the answering machine on my desk and saw that I had two messages. I sat down, pressed play and listened.

The first was from my older sister Cara, who was calling from Nice. ‘Hi, Serena, it’s me. I’ve found another box of photographs, mostly of Mom. Looking fab. You might want to use a few in the book. Shall I send by FedEx? Or what? I’m heading out now, so leave a message. Or call me tomorrow. Big kiss.’

The second message was from my godfather. ‘It’s Harry. Just confirming Monday night, Serena honey. Seven thirty. Usual place. Don’t bother to call back. See ya.’

The whistling kettle brought me to my feet. As I made the tea I felt a frisson of apprehension, then an odd sense of foreboding … something bad was going to happen, I felt it in my bones.

I pushed this dark feeling away, carried the mug of tea back to my office, telling myself that I usually experienced premonitions only when I was at the front, when I sensed imminent danger, knew I had to run for my life before I was blown to smithereens by a bomb, or took a bullet. To have such feelings now was irrational. I shook my head, chiding myself for being overly imaginative. But in fact I was to remember this moment later and wonder if I’d had some sort of sixth sense.


he room I used as an office was once my mother’s den, years ago. It was light, airy, with large plate-glass windows at one end. She had decorated it in cream and deep peach with a touch of raspberry; I had kept those colours because they emphasized its spaciousness and I found them restful.

In fact I had pretty much left the room as it was, except for buying a modern desk chair. I loved her antique Georgian desk, the long wall of bookshelves that held her various decorative objects and family photographs as well as books.

At the windowed end of the room my mother had created a charming seating area with a big comfortable sofa, several armchairs and a coffee table. I headed there now, carrying my mug. I sat down on the sofa, sipped the tea, and, as always, marvelled at the panoramic view spread out before me: the East River, the suspension bridges and the amazing skyscrapers that helped to make this city so unique.

The windows faced downtown, and just to my right was the elegant Art Deco spire of the Chrysler Building and next to it the equally impressive Empire State. The city had never looked better, had made an unusually spectacular comeback after the bombing of the World Trade Center in 2001.

I realized, with a small jolt of surprise, that it was ten years ago already. The anniversary of that horrific attack would be this coming September, since we were now in the year 2011.

What mattered, though, was that One World, the new tower, was already on its way up, would keep on going up and up and up, until it reached 1,776 feet, that well-known number not only commemorating Independence Day, but also making it the highest building in the Western hemisphere.

That particular September remained vivid in my mind, not only because of the heinous crime that had been committed, but because we had all been here together as a family. In this very apartment, which my mother had bought thirty years ago now, in around 1980, just before I was born.

My mother, who had an amazing eye for art and architecture, had a predilection for buying apartments and houses, which is why my sisters and I had grown up all over the world: New York, London, Paris, Nice and Bel Air. My grandmother used to say we were like gypsies with money.

BOOK: Secrets From the Past
5.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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