Cathy Kelly's latest book, Other Women, is hitting shelves on April 15th, 2021. The bestselling author is bringing a refreshingly honest, warm and funny story about female friendship and marriage - and all the great loves of our life. Read an extract below.


Oscar Wilde was right – work is the curse of the drinking classes. I wend my way through the Friday night hordes in The Fiddler's Elbow, neatly avoiding a guy who thinks – mistakenly – that small, dark-haired women in their thirties are only in pubs on a Friday to find handsy hunks like himself.

I’m heading for the snug at the back of the pub where my Nurture colleagues will be settled in.

Nurture is an advocacy group, semi-funded by the state, set up to improve the health of the people of Ireland and to educate anyone who thinks curry chips, a deep-fried burger and a sugar-laden soft drink is a fully balanced meal.

However, education is a tough job, so on Fridays, even the most goji-berry-loving among us move blindly en masse across the road to The Fiddler’s Elbow to reward ourselves for a week of work.

Diabetes Two is on the rise, despite the year-long campaign,’ laments my colleague, Robbie, who’s been in Nurture thirteen years, as long as I have, and is also a campaign director. I’m responsible for school health, which is like trying to hold back a flood with a very small bucket.

I find an empty stool beside Chloe, an intern on a gap year who seems so young, she makes me feel seventy instead of just thirty-four.

Chloe looks miserable.

'Sid!’ she says. ‘Adrienne shouted at me today, shouted. Just because we were out of the coffee pods she likes. It’s not my job to replace them, is it? ‘

Chloe, a wet week out of school stares at me over the top of her drink. 

‘This job is not what I thought it would be,’ Chloe goes on. ‘How do you handle it, Sid?’

Chloe has seen me with my kid sister, Vilma, who is nineteen, and I’m getting the vibe that she thinks I am Vilma’s mother, therefore a nurturing sort.

She can’t really think I’m Vilma’s mother? I’m thirty- four, not forty-four, although my skincare regime is a little lax.

The barman finally hands me my large glass of wine and I’m about to test how acidic it is when I think, who am I kidding? I’d drink battery acid at five-thirty on a Friday.

‘Chloe, without meaning to sound unhinged, sometimes I go into the office kitchen and have a little rant at the micro- wave. It lets off steam.’

‘But you don’t shout at anyone, do you?’ says Chloe, sounding younger every moment.

‘The workplace can be a tense environment,’ I say wearily.

Chloe hasn’t a clue as to what work is really like as opposed to what young people think it is going to be.

If she knew what horrors some offices held in store for newcomers, she’d take being screamed at in the kitchen any day.

When I finish my wine, I use an app to call a taxi from the only taxi company I ever use. I prefer to wait twenty minutes for someone I know to turn up and bring me home. My own couch, possibly a hot bath and a box set await me. I never drive into the office on Fridays and walk in but I never, ever, do the walk home.

I phone Vilma from the taxi: ‘Hi, Vilma, tell me – do I look old enough to be your mother?’.

My little sister snorts. ‘No! Who said that?’

 ‘A girl in my office an intern. She’s probably seen you come to get me for lunch because I had the distinct feeling she thought I was your mother.’

‘Don’t be an idiot.’
‘Really. She thinks I’m the motherly type,’ I mutter.

 ‘You’re the ‘look out for the women you work with’ type,’ says Vilma. ‘The same way you prepared me for life after school, and in school for that matter. That’s why my friends love you. You tell us to take no shit from men and we don’t. You’re our special ops trainer, Sid: leave no woman behind. ‘

I say nothing for a moment: I always wanted Vilma and her friends to be prepared for life. I adore Vilma – nobody is going to hurt her on my watch.

‘That’s probably it,’ I say, aiming for cheerful.

She and I are technically half-sisters and she takes after my beloved Lithuanian stepfather, Stefan. Vilma, whose name means ‘truth’ in Lithuanian, is the same as Stefan – pale skin, pale eyes, hair like the woods at midnight. I’m like my mother: my hair’s chocolate with what Vilma fancifully likes to call bronze highlights, and my eyes are like Mum’s, hazel. But Mum’s a perfect hippie with her hair long and trailing, while mine’s short. And if anyone ever catches me in a hippie outfit, kill me immediately.

‘What’re you up to tonight?’ I ask Vilma.

‘Going to Jojo’s for a Netflix binge. Drag Race old seasons.’ I can hear the rattle of clothes hangers as she speaks. ‘What—’
I know what’s coming next.

What are you up to tonight?

‘Just here,’ I say, as if here is somewhere exciting instead of outside my building. I can’t face Vilma’s sadness at the fact that my life revolves around almost nothing social. ‘Talk tomorrow and be—’

‘—safe, yes,’ she replies. ‘Love you.’
‘Love you more.’
It takes another few minutes to get me home.
‘Thanks, Gareth,’ I say to the lovely driver, climbing out right in front of the steps to my apartment-block door. That’s the great thing about my taxi guys. There’s none of that, ‘We’ll just drop you on the corner here and sure, you can walk the rest of the way’ with them. I tip well and I always ask to be brought as close to the door as possible.

I’m on the tenth floor, which is utterly wonderful from the point of view of getting burgled, because there’s a great shortage of ten-storey ladders. Plus, I have three locks on the door. And a baseball bat inside it.

Marc, who’d been my significant other for twelve years, hadn’t said a word when I insisted on getting three locks. It was one of the many things I’d loved about him.

Loved: is there a sadder word?

I open my three locks, step inside and relock them quickly

Marc and I were like an old married couple with our own happy routines.

Now he was gone, there was no one to sit with in companionable peace while we surfed the TV stations and our various cable subscriptions.

Sometimes, when I get home, it feels as if somebody has died and left me alone in my little universe.

I conquer this by watching more and more TV.

Apart from trips home to see my family, I exist in a world of work, home and online supermarket deliveries.

If having a loving relationship with my couch cushions were what it took to keep me sane, then that’s what I’d do. Marc’s leaving had shocked me.

It was a miracle it had lasted as long as it did, but still, I missed him.

Still, what we’d had was special and I knew I’d never have it again. But I needed another man in my life like I needed a hole in the head. I had everything I wanted. Except for those new biker boots I was longing for.

Who needs men when you’ve got fabulous boots, right?