Time To Shine - A Story Of Gaslighting?

Posted at 07:47am on 23rd November 2015

Set in Exeter, and written in the style of Jodi Picoult, this is a gentle mystery drama with a difference, solved not by a Detective but by a Counsellor, and with a psychological twist at the end.

A beautifully written and thoughtful book centred on relationships which will strike a chord with many people. Former Newspaper Editor & Author David Scott

Being a psychologist myself, I love to read novels about psychology and counselling. This book does not disappoint. Mel Menzies' portrayal of Evie Adams the counsellor is spot-on. Psychologist & Author Annie Try


Has anyone ever heard of the term 'gaslighting'?  I had to google it to find its meaning when I came across it in one of the 5* reviews on Amazon.

This book grew on me the further I got into it. I found the depiction of the husband's "gaslighting" behaviour in the early scenes scarily realistic, and this made me sceptical as to how the problems could be resolved and the marriage saved in a way that was believable. I was pleasantly surprised. The marriage is indeed saved, but there is no saccharine easy resolution - the husband's journey back to his wife is tortuous and costly but eminently credible. The ending is more satisfying than I anticpated. I'm looking forward to the next one in the series!  Ros Bayes

Here's an example of gaslighting, taken from the book:


She looked at herself long and hard in the full length mirror on the wall.  There were shadows under her large brown eyes, a slight droop to the corners of her mouth, and tiny furrows beginning to show on her cheeks.  She turned sideways, straightened her shoulders, pulled in her tummy, lifted her chin and smiled.  A definite improvement.  She might be just the wrong side of forty, but she still had some attractive features, she thought.

Certainly that was the opinion expressed by some of Carl's colleagues - 'gorgeous as ever' - if they were to be believed.  So why was Carl so offhand with her?  And what could it possibly have to do with her friendship with Hilary?  She turned from the mirror and made for the door.

'And just where have you been?'

Emerging from the cloakroom, Julia felt her heart miss a beat.  At the far end of the oak panelled hallway, arms folded across his chest, Carl was leaning against the door jamb of the lounge.  His dark hair, beginning to grey at the sides, was swept back off his face; his classic good looks were marred by the compressed line of his mouth, and the cold, inscrutable grey of his eyes.  Tongue sticking to the roof of her mouth, and with a terrible, familiar sense of guilt, Julia found herself gabbling.

'What are you doing home?  I didn't see the car.'

'Oh!  Sneaking in were we?'  Carl laughed, derisorily.

'No!  I just hadn't expected you home this early.  Good day at work?'

'As it happens, no!  I had a phone call from Abi's school.  They couldn't reach you.  So I had to rush over there and take her to A&E.'

Julia grabbed the edge of the oak chest to steady herself.  'Oh, my goodness!  What's wrong with her?  Is she alright?'

Carl straightened, fixed Julia with an icy stare.  'She's okay.  But that's not the point.  Where were you?  Why was your phone switched off?'

'I was -  Where is she?  I'd like to see her for myself.'

'As she would have liked to see you, her mother, had you not been gallivanting off.  Somewhere that you're obviously reluctant to tell me about.  Isn't that right, Abigail?'

Julia turned in the direction Carl was looking and saw her daughter, clad in her school uniform, at the top of the stairs.  A fourteen year old mirror image of her mother, Abi's left arm was in a sling, her long brown hair dishevelled, her eyes red and tearful.

'Where were you, Mum?' she asked, making her way down the broad oak staircase as fast as she could, given that she was unable to hold onto the bannister.  'I kept ringing and ringing you.'

Julia hastened towards her, pulled the child into her arms, then partially released her as Abi cried out in pain.

'I'm so sorry, darling.  I should have been there for you.  What happened?'

Carl resumed his position, leaning against the door post, arms akimbo, one ankle crossed over the other, toe down on the carpet.  Julia glanced in his direction.  It was perfectly clear that he was making a show of being a spectator, but she was too concerned with Abi to be bothered.

'I dislocated my shoulder on the hockey field.  It hurt so much!'

Unable to continue holding Abi in her arms without causing her further discomfort, Julia smoothed her hands down either side of her daughter's face and kissed her forehead.

'My poor darling.'

'Miss Staverton helped me inside and the Head called an ambulance.  When she couldn't get hold of you, she rang Dad.  Where were you Mum?'

There was an unmistakeable note of accusation in Abi's voice.  Carl straightened up again.

'Yes.  Where were you, Julia?' he drawled.  'We'd all like to know that.'

'I was in town.'  Julia addressed herself to Abi.  'I'm so sorry, darling.  Must have had my phone switched off.'

'Doing good for others were we?' Carl asked, a dramatised expression of intense interest lighting his face.

Julia flashed him a look in a silent plea for understanding and harmony.  It failed.  As it had, she realised, for at least half of the seventeen years of her marriage.

'Your mother had more important things to attend to, Abigail,' said Carl in tones which, if Julia hadn't known better, rang with sincerity.  'Things that wait for no man.  Or daughter.'

He stood still long enough for Julia to catch the look of scorn on his face, then walked past her up the hallway and into his study without a backward glance. 

I'd love to hear from anyone who's experienced this behaviour before.  And I'd love to meet up with you if you can get to the book signing on 4th December.



First in the Evie Adams Series




Available from 10.a.m. to 3.30.p.m. Mel will be giving a brief talk at 11.a.m. and 2.30.p.m.

My Latest Book: Time to Shine

With 5* reviews, this is the first of a series, with Chosen or Cheated to follow soon.

With a broken marriage behind her and an impoverished future ahead, quirky counsellor, Evie Adams, is faced with a well-to-do client whose husband has become inexplicably hostile.  Why, she wonders, should Julia’s marriage be at risk simply because she's found a new friend?

When a murky past and long ago events linking Carl Worth and the new friend come to light, Evie is determined to help Julia learn the art of assertiveness, and to fulfil her potential.  Meanwhile, in helping Julia on her journey to achieve fulfilment in her life and resolution with her husband, Evie – divorced and childless - discovers that it is, also, her own Time to Shine.

My Speaking Experience

  • I’ve been on BBC Radio 5 Live a number of times, and the Caroline Martin Show (BBC West Midlands), speaking about stepfamilies – the title of one of my books.
  • Newly retired as Chairman of ACW, a national writers’ association, I lead a local Writers’ Group and a Book Club.
  • In the past year I’ve led a workshop on Writing Meaningful Memoirs and spoken on the topics Your Time to Shine and Don’t Hide Your Light.
  • I was asked to speak about Godparents on BBC Sunday Morning Live TV when Prince George was christened.
  • I’ve led seminars on blogging at conferences for publishers & bookshop owners.
  • I’ve run creative writers’ workshops at national retreats

Previous Books

  • Genres include testimony, biography and how-to-books
  • Topics include divorce, stepfamilies, drug addiction, a wayward child, bereavement, HIV and AIDS, and healing.

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