Here is an extract…
Lucy wiped the paintbrush carefully on an old rag and laid it down. She put the lid firmly back onto the paint tin, pressing it down with her foot to make sure it was closed. Then she straightened up, pushing her heavy chestnut hair back from her face with one paint-smeared hand, adding more white streaks to those that already marked her small lightly-tanned features. ‘That’s it, Will,’ she called, ‘they’re all done.’
The slight wiry boy crouched on the gravel drive looked across at her and grinned. He stood up and threw his handful of weeds into the heavy galvanised bucket beside him, which was already brimming over with tufts of grass and clumps of plantain. He sauntered across the lawn to where she stood, a smile splitting his thin face as he saw how bespattered with paint she was.
‘You won’t have any difficulty going on the war path,’ he observed.
Lucy shrugged impatiently. ‘You can’t make omelettes without breaking eggs,’ she countered tartly, and gestured about her. ‘What do you think?’
Will turned slowly round, viewing the south lawn. It was dotted with deceptively casual groups of cast-iron chairs and tables, newly painted in white. A few cedar benches, shining with freshly-applied linseed oil, were backed carefully against the beech hedge which separated the lawn from the ha-ha.
‘They do look good, Lucy. What a shame we can’t eat them!’ He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye, and then went on hurriedly, ‘But what about the rest of it?’ He pointed at the molehills that showed in places through the long grass of the lawn, and at the branches arching luxuriantly from the overgrown hedge.
‘Oh, that’ll be alright. Bert’s going to see to it all when he’s finished edging the drive.’
‘This year?’ muttered Will, avoiding his sister’s gaze as she eyed him suspiciously, not quite sure of what he had said.
‘Well, anyway, the house looks fine, doesn’t it?’ she asked him, looking proudly across the drive to the south front of the old house. Indeed, it did look particularly attractive, with the spring sunlight warming the mellow red bricks and sparkling on the leaded windows.
‘Let’s hope they don’t see that the windows are loose and the roof leaks,’ Will said gloomily.
‘Must you be so pessimistic?’ Lucy snapped crossly.
Her brother was immediately repentant. ‘I’m sorry. It’s just that I know so well what’s wrong with it. But it does really look good, and, honestly, no one else will see all the bad things, not even if they need to have their teas in the hall.’
‘No, they’re not likely to,’ Lucy agreed, her irritation forgotten. ‘It’s lucky we can use it if the weather is bad.’
Will opened his mouth, and then quickly closed it again, deciding that further comment would be unwise.