In this contemporary twist on Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, tour manager, Bailey, strives to ensure that her guests enjoy their three-week tour of Australia – for many, the holiday of a lifetime.
Then Bailey discovers that her tour operator – Australia Unleashed – has been taken over, she has a secret shopper among the guests and her career is on the line. She remains determined in her quest. However, her good intentions disintegrate into a cocktail of chaos.
Take a slice of mystery; a shot of skulduggery; a measure of prejudice; a twist of romance and a dash of humour. Put them all together, shake and enjoy, as the twenty-one travellers each tell their stories, form new relationships and discover things about themselves that will change their lives forever.
The door to the dining room whooshed again. Five guests strolled purposefully towards her. She felt the familiar thrill as the adrenalin surged, part nerves, part excitement. It always happened when she met her guests for the first time.
The first man looked like the amicable villain in her favourite TV soap – six-foot-tall, muscular, late thirties, with his hair shaved short. His jeans and black T-shirt were smartly pressed, and he carried a leather jacket draped over his arm.
Two older couples followed.
The first, a silver-haired pair, dressed identically in Burberry check trousers and white tennis shirts, reminded her of Tweedledum and Tweedledee; with mutually unfriendly expressions, furrowed brows and pursed lips. The man carried their matching red anoraks as his partner foraged in her large purple tote bag. Her hand emerged clutching a bottle of antibacterial gel. As they approached, she proceeded to spray first her own, then her partner’s, upturned palms. He rubbed his podgy hands together and glanced at his watch.
The second couple chatted together quietly as they approached, heads touching, arms entwined. His navy polo shirt with burgundy stripe complemented the pale blue of hers.
Bailey stood to greet them. ‘Welcome to Perth.’
Her first guest reached across the desk and firmly shook her hand. His brown eyes twinkled as his face broke into a broad grin.
‘Good morning. You must be Kate? I’m Tony Knight.’
‘Please. Call me Bailey. Everybody does. Did you enjoy your stop-over, Tony?’
‘Brilliant. Great hotel in Singapore – very central.’ ‘And your connection flight?’
‘I got in about six last night, which gave me plenty of time to explore.’
Bailey turned towards the silver haired couple beside him. The man glared at her; the woman sniffed.
‘Mr and Mrs Nunne,’ he said, ignoring her outstretched hand.
Bailey’s hand trembled slightly as she ticked their names off her list. ‘Welcome. What time did you arrive in Perth?’
‘Two o’clock this morning, after a five-hour delay in Dubai. Ridiculous.’
‘I’m very sorry. I did hear that a flight got delayed for tech- nical reasons.’
‘And now we hear that our schedule has changed – Melbourne after Uluru and then back up to Cairns? Extra travel. Huge temperature changes. I’ll be surprised if we don’t all go down with pneumonia.’
Bailey’s heart sank. Why was there always one?
‘I’m so sorry. The alterations to our planned schedule are due to internal flight issues. You’ll find a complimentary bottle of wine in your room as an apology for any inconvenience.’
Mr Nunne grunted. ‘Poor planning, more like. We’ll be writing to complain.’
Bailey fixed her smile firmly in place and turned to the next couple.
‘Nigel Monk and this is my wife, Pryor. We’re pleased to meet you, Bailey. What have you done with the weather? This temperature’s a bit of a shock after Hong Kong.’ His voice, gentle and teasing, delivered with a friendly smile.
‘I’m assured this weather front will clear later today.’ She handed each of them an envelope. ‘I’ve prepared these. They contain a map of the city, details on the free tram service, a few ideas on places to visit, and complimentary tickets for the famous Swan Bells Tower. There’s also a card with my cell phone number. If you have any queries give me a call. Tonight, we meet at six in the Compass Lounge, down that staircase over there.’ She pointed towards the highly polished brass hand rail and marble steps. ‘It’s an opportunity to get to know each other, enjoy a complimentary cocktail, some entertainment, and then we’ll walk down to the boat for our river cruise and evening meal.’
Thank you, Wendy Mason and Random Things Tours
About the author
Wendy was born in Queniborough, Leicestershire and enjoyed her careers as a hospital administrator, lecturer and finally as a capital manager for schools in Cornwall. She now lives in Falmouth with her husband, Harold, close to their daughter Rachael, Son-in-law Dan and two grandsons, Hector (5) and Arthur (3).
She took early retirement in 2011 (she emphasises early) and decided to study creative writing. Her first novel, St Francis – An Instrument of Peace, was published after eight years of research and perfecting her writing skills.
Her latest novel – Not Exactly Chaucer – is based on the concept of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales with a contemporary twist. The setting is a three-week escorted tour of Australia. Bailey, the tour manager, struggles to discover who is a threat to her career, while the 21 travellers each tell their stories, form new relationships and discover things about themselves that will change their lives for ever.
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Not-Exactly-Chaucer-Wendy-Mason-ebook/dp/B0844KDFKL/ref=as_li_ss_tl?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1580726449&sr=8-1&linkCode=sl1&tag=whigreisl-21&linkId=bf4deb05c777e24fa3deca5fa6750765&language=en_GB