We present an extract from Dirty Laundry, the debut novel by Disha Bose.

Ciara, Lauren and Mishti are three mothers, friends, wives. But, underneath the perfectly managed routines of their Cork lives, they are not the women you expect - and neither are the secrets they keep. We all have our dirty laundry to air, but when their carefully curated world is threatened, the devastation goes beyond scandal - it leads to murder...

Lauren and Willow trekked to the shop. To the only real shop in the village, which was beside a chipper, wedged between two pubs. The walk to the village centre wasn't very long, but they took the shorter route through the woods, so Lauren could point out different trees and flowers to Willow on her back. She knew these woods well, having spent most of her childhood wandering here alone.

They crossed the familiar sight of a litter of premixed- vodka- drink cans and cigarette butts, a half- burned old tyre hanging from a tree, a trampled- on hoodie. The smell of piss was everywhere. Teenagers in the village had been up to the same extracurriculars for decades. Lauren sang to Willow to keep her distracted as they hurried past.

At the shop, she dawdled in the aisles, trying to avoid two women she’d gone to school with. She hadn’t forgotten about the names they’d invented for her when they were children. Porridge Face. Hairy Laurie. Bo Peep. Neither had they.

Ciara’s arrival in the community had rekindled all those memories, and seemed to have spurred these women on again. It was as though Ciara had handed them a free pass, giving them all permission to behave like teenagers again, just when Lauren thought they were all past it. Ciara and Gerry were blow- ins, but they’d purchased the most coveted property in the village. They set the benchmark for what the rest of them aspired to be, who were all following the Dunphys’ lead.

Lauren was idling in front of the dried fruit and nuts section, trying to be invisible, as the two women chatted at the dairy fridges. She’d already overheard them mention Ciara – something about a skincare brand she’d recommended on Instagram. Then one of them looked over and caught sight of Lauren. Their eyes met, and Lauren frantically grabbed at some bags of almonds. The women shu ed away with smug faces. Lauren finished her shopping quickly, and paid at the counter. The women had already left the shop, and Willow was whining on her back in the sling. When Lauren stepped out onto the sidewalk, she was out of breath with anxiety. She saw the women sitting in their cars. They were parked on opposite sides of the narrow main road with their windows rolled down, throwing their voices across at each other as they made to leave. When they caught sight of her again, Lauren lifted her hand to wave before she could stop herself. On cue, they revved their engines and drove o , leaving her with her hand suspended in mid- air.

Motherhood had come naturally to Lauren, just as unexpectedly as her first pregnancy. When she was young and bright- eyed, following Sean everywhere like a disciple, she hadn’t pictured herself carrying children on her back. She didn’t know the first thing about raising kids, having grown up with only an older brother. She certainly didn’t know how much they wanted to be held as infants, or how soul- crushing their cries could be. And the sleep deprivation had taken some getting used to. Six years on, if she ever managed to sleep longer than four hours straight, she woke up with what felt like a hangover.

But despite the trials, she’d slipped into motherhood as easily as she’d slipped in love with Sean. This was what she was meant to do: to be a mother to these three children, and in love with the man who had fathered them.

Fatherhood, however, hadn’t come so quickly to Sean. When he first held Freya, Lauren saw hopelessness on his face. He was at once hurtling into a kind of love he’d never experienced before and terrified of the mewling creature in his arms. He practically flung Freya back at her.

Lauren was prepared to do it alone. She didn’t expect Sean to want to stick around. So, at the hospital, when he told her he needed some fresh air, she didn’t ask when he was coming back. She thought he’d leave the city altogether, that he needed to escape her and the baby. When he returned three hours later smelling of Scotch and cigarettes, she was surprised. He had a bouquet of roses in one arm and a stuffed bear in the other.

Dirty Laundry is published by Viking

About The Author: Disha Bose was born and raised in India, and has lived in Calcutta, London, and Dublin. She worked in the tech industry and met her west Cork husband at a party in London. They moved to Dublin and Disha joined the Masters in Creative Writing programme at University College Dublin. They now live in West Cork with their little girl.