EXCESS BAGGAGE

A proper family holiday is the last thing Lucy is expecting to have, but as a penniless and partnerless house-painter with an expired lease on her flat and a twelve-year-old daughter, she can hardly turn down her parents' offer to take them on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Caribbean. She'd just have to put up with her sister Therersa (making no secret of preferring Tuscany as a holiday destination) and brother Simon (worrying there might be some sinister agenda behind their parents' wish to take them all away) with their various spouses, teenagers, young children and a very unhappy au pair.

In a luxury hotel with bright sunshine, stunning beach, glorious food and friendly locals, family tensions should melt away. The children should be angelic, the teenagers cheerful, the adults relaxed and happy. But... too many problems (including a nasty little medical one) refuse to be left at home.

After a long and exhausting summer of work deadlines we felt we deserved a quick break and flew off a last-minute bargain week in Antigua. It was our first holiday without the daughters and the younger one, about to study ocean science and keen on meteorology, warned us that it was the hurricane season (no wonder it was cheap..). We put her warnings down to a certain envious fury about being left behind.. but halfway through the week preparations were being made all over the island for the coming of Hurricane Georges. While spending the night barricaded in our hotel bathroom as the tiles flew off the bedroom roof, the wind splintered the thick wooden door and rain poured in, I thought of ideas for this book and only hoped I'd survive to get home and write it.