Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Look by Sophia Bennett blog tour - exclusive extract!

Hello there! Today, I have an exclusive extract from the fantastic novel by Sophia Bennett, The Look, as part of her blog tour! This extract is from Chapter Five and is one of my favourite parts in the book. Enjoy!

Still shocked by the news of her older sister’s cancer, Ted accompanies her parents and Ava to the hospital for Ava’s first consultation.

The consultation goes by in a blur. Doctor Christodoulou is not as old as I was expecting – younger than Dad, in fact, with a smooth, unlined face and black, wavy hair. He must have done all his training very fast. I wonder if he can really be a ‘highly respected expert’ already.
He explains that Ava’s type of lymphoma is called Hodgkin’s disease. The lump in her neck is not a tumour – or not the way I imagined it, anyway – it’s a swelling of the lymph nodes. I didn’t know you had lymph nodes, but now I do, and Ava’s have got cancer. Once they’ve found out how far it’s spread, they’ll start treating it with chemotherapy, which is basically lots of powerful drugs that they’ll be flooding into her bloodstream over several weeks until they’ve got rid of it. And if that doesn’t work, they’ll try radiotherapy.
Great. Not remotely frightening, then.
‘But you look fit, Ava,’ he says to her with a smile. ‘That’s a good start.’
He’s not the first person to tell Ava she looks fit. Not by a long way. It’s just not usually in these circumstances. She still smiles coyly, though, as if she’s forgotten why we’re here. I think she’s struggling to concentrate. And he’s not bad himself, as paediatric oncologists go. I really should stop noticing stuff like this.
‘My secretary will book you in for the other tests you need, OK? It’ll only take a few days. We like to move these things along.’
Mum blows into a tissue; she’s already got through most of the box thoughtfully placed next to her. I think we’re all very slightly in love with Doctor Christodoulou. Even Dad looks a bit less grey than he did five minutes ago.
 ‘And you can make her completely better?’ he asks, with a cough.
The consultant hesitates slightly. ‘I can’t make any promises. But I can tell you that the treatment is very effective these days. Over ninety per cent of our patients are completely cured.’ Then he turns his attention back to Ava. ‘Now, while you’re here, I’d like our phlebotomist to take some samples.’ He smiles at our blank faces. ‘Blood samples. It won’t take long.’
Next thing we know, we’re back in the corridor. Ava and Mum are being taken to wherever the phlebotomists hang out – in the basement, somewhere – and Dad and I are shown back into the waiting room.
I want to talk to Dad about the last bit of the conversation – about curing the disease. A ninety per cent success rate is great, of course. It’s an A in pretty much any subject. But I have a maths exam coming up and I’m fairly sure that if you take ninety per cent away from a hundred per cent, it still means that ten per cent of people don’t necessarily get cured. What happens to them? However, Dad has already got his head buried in The Lady again. He’s not avoiding me exactly, but I can tell he’s not ready to talk. The thought might have occurred to him too.
Instead, I pick up the abandoned Marie Claire from beside Ava’s old seat and flick through it. It contains well over a hundred pages of perfect, impossible bodies in bikinis and high-heeled shoes. Whoopee. But I need distractions. Any distractions. So I decide to read my way through it, page by page, until Mum and Ava get back, or until my brain melts – whichever happens first.
There are a remarkable number of lipstick ads in Marie Claire. More than you’d think possible. And foundation ads. And perfume ads. And handbag ads. I’m starting to wonder how I’ve got through fifteen years of my life without owning a proper lipstick (I wear gloss if I remember; usually I don’t), or foundation, or perfume (I borrow Mum’s or Ava’s, when I can get away with it), or a handbag. Yes, I really don’t own a handbag. I have a small canvas rucksack that works perfectly well. Or at least, I thought it did. Maybe I should own one handbag. I’m starting to feel I’m letting the handbag industry down.
Mum and Ava still aren’t back. I plough on.
There’s an article on ‘how to get a beach body’. Another on whether bikinis or one-piece costumes are more flattering. And a very long piece on some ageing blonde woman going through her walk-in wardrobe of designer outfits, explaining which ones are special to her and why. I bet she owns a lot of handbags and not a single canvas rucksack.
‘What are you reading?’ Dad asks me.
I look up. ‘Oh, this thing about some woman with a lot of clothes.’
‘Why what?’
‘Why does she have a lot of clothes?’
This is a fair question, especially from a man who lives in the same three shirts and two pairs of trousers. I’m not sure of the answer, though, so I go back to the beginning of the article and read the opening blurb more carefully: ‘My love affair with fashion – Cassandra Spoke, founder of Model City, gives us an intimate tour of an über-agent’s über-wardrobe.’
There’s a picture of Cassandra Spoke in her office. She has piercing blue eyes, tanned skin and silky, blonde hair, perfectly parted in the middle. She’s wearing narrow black silk trousers and very high heels. Behind her is the logo that represents her über-agency. It’s a jagged black ‘M’ inside a pale blue circle. The circle matches the colour of her eyes, and is actually a ‘C’, for ‘City’.
This logo, I’m sure, is the same as the one on the card that Simon the scammer gave me in Carnaby Street.
Except maybe he wasn’t.
‘Ted, are you OK?’ Dad asks, frowning.
I nod dumbly and try to ignore the increasingly familiar sound of buzzing in my ears.
I think I got scouted by a legitimate model agency, owned by a fashion star. And my sister’s having blood tests to see why her neck’s got cancer. It feels as though the world has turned upside down. I’m not sure I’m ready for this.

I hope you loved it as much as I did! Make sure to pick up copy of The Look from your local bookshop, or buy it here or here! Sophia is a fantastic author, and I absolutely LOVED The Look, look out for a review this week, and make sure you lie cheat, but not steal! - your way to a copy of this book, pronto :) And check the next post of the tour tomorrow over at one of my favourite blogs, Fluttering Butterflies.


  1. Can't wait for your review! This extract is really intriguing, and sad :(

  2. I love this extract, one of the best chapters!

  3. Nice choice of extract! I followed you back. Your blog is really nice :)

    The Book to my Heart


Comments make my day :)

This is an award-free zone, sorry but I just don't have the time to pass them on! Thanks for thinking of me anyway :)