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My Cousin's Keeper

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The Last New Start and My Cousin's Keeper are two halves of a story being written by Angel for NaNoWrMo 2021.

The two books tell the same story from different perspectives, although they each have separate plot threads as well. The main story is focused around a teen girl, Tess, moving in with her older cousin Gabby after her parents leave the country.


  • The number 74 bus is the Palmerston—Raybridge circular, which comes every fifteen minutes (and spends half an hour circling around back streets within Palmerston, if you don't know where to get off)
  • Gabby's company had a new contract with Claughton Innovative, which she seems to be responsible for
    • They are one of the sponsors involved with the production of movie Tags, which is the big screen debut of breakout character Cerberus Shark
  • Spike has invited Tess to watch a movie called Shiroyamanomusuko next week; something (possibly subtitled) about a crippled former samurai. Billed as a romance.


Main Characters

  • Tess Naylor - POV character for The Last New Start; a teenage girl
  • Gabby Noel - Tess's cousin, caretaker, and bully; POV character and narrator for My Cousin's Keeper. Ffrances calls her Gabrielle as a joke sometimes; it isn't her real name.
  • Ffrances Jones (Gabby's gf; a hypnotherapist)
  • Spike Luger - In the year below Tess. Seems to know everyone in school, friendly with everyone. Tess wishes he was her boyfriend, but is scared to ask how he feels. They seem to have something like a relationship without ever making it official

Gabby's friends/workmates

  • Malcolm - Gabby's friend. Does interior decorating (decorated the nursery)
  • Jenny - Works with Gabby. Might have kids; recommended a 'classic' movie that Gabby and Tess hadn't seen
  • Jessop - The boss, who is rarely actually in the office unless there is a complaint about one of the teams
  • Ken Heeling - supposed to be on Gabby's team for the big CI job. Finishes work early to go to dinner with whichever one of his ex wives he's currently hoping to get back together with
    • Barbera Heeling Farnsworth - Ken's 4th ex wife. Trophy wife, a lot younger than him and dressed younger. Gabby speculates (without much reason) that she might have been a little; but only after Ffrances tells her that she's met another little without realising. Currently not talking to her husband because he's trying to get back together with his second wife again.
  • James Reznor - the third team leader on the CI project, 'the new guy'. Doesn't come into the office much, but seems to get his work done. Has a habit of leaving it close to the deadline
  • German Tony - Not actually German. Is a little creepy or a little bossy (depending on perceived gender) around people he thinks he could pull rank on
  • several interns report to her, including Carter and Jo Walcroft.
  • Matt - IT guy. Has arcade machines outside his office. See My Cousin's Keeper chapter 44 for description.
  • Elliot Klimt and Miranda Hagen - designers. Gabby thinks they wanted her job, so suspects them for anything that goes wrong. Klimt has a great poker face, feels like he's analysing everyone; Hagen never makes eye contact and has a stutter when talking about anything important, especially presenting to a group
  • Mr Gently - Gabby's predecessor in her current position
  • "The Elder Dragon", aka The Tyrant, aka she who must not be named. The legendary figure who runs the Upper Ashfields project, and is responsible for ensuring that all staff on site are supported and motivated. People talk about her (or pointedly don't) as if they're terrified of making mistakes; many who haven't actually worked with her are terrified of getting her attention. Among those who have actually met her, they probably realise that she is only really nasty to people who are causing a problem. Although her name is in the staff directory as Miss Bracewell, her name is almost never used.
  • James (?) - office gossip, thinks he knows everything about people's private lives. The guy management talk to when they want to know what people really think about their plans
  • Shimatoyou Taro - One of Gabby's other clients; she's the representative he turns to for setting up new contracts, even if she ends up not being the project manager. Is willing to pay to have her join a conference call in the middle of the night, probably due to timezones. Extremely professional, and needs no hand-holding, but isn't afraid to ask questions if he needs more detail.

Tess's classmates

Her parents think of Chloe and Kim as her best friends; not sure how accurate this is. Prior to the book she would mostly hang around with Liz, Kim, and sometimes Chloe; or with Spike (not usually together with the others)

  • Chloe - has a natural talent for memorising names and dates, which puts her at the top of Tess's history class. Has helped Tess with studying in the past, but her house is full of siblings yelling across each other so she almost never meets friends at home
    • Rachel - so far only seen with Chloe. Spike identifies her as Chloe's girlfriend
    • Dyllan - Mentioned in chapter 18; Chloe skipped breakfast because she had to deal with him. Context unknown.
  • Liz - her brother Delain has a half dozen exercise machines in the garage, because he doesn't have the motivation to work out but always thinks that a new type of machine will somehow make him fit
  • Annette
  • Kim - full name 'Pocahontas Rainbow-Child Kim'. Parents were hippies; all her friends use her surname only. Moves silently without realising; her friends are used to being startled because she starts talking before they even realised she was there. Lives on the edge of Raybridge; the closest bus stop is in the next village along, Bullocksfeel. Is into rock climbing, but a bit of an outdoorsy type.
    • Evan - Kim's new boyfriend; Tess first meets him in chapter 47. Lives in the middle of nowhere to the west of Raybridge, goes to school in Upper Ashfields ("Uppers" to the locals). Is a big archery nut, but does all kinds of outdoor pursuits, from wild camping to abseiling. Met Kim when they reached for the same carabiner at the same time in a new outdoors shop in Upper Ashfields.
  • Tami - a new friend, who lives in Palmerston. Tess starts talking to him on the bus because she doesn't know anyone else on that route. His body language and appearance suggest he doesn't quite fit in; Tess initially thought he was from some exotic country, maybe the middle east. But he moved with his family three years ago, coming from the town of Mule Butte, Nebraska.
  • Ashli Mortimer - Tami's gf. In Tess's history class. Says she is really bad at the subject, but does well on tests through determination and hard work. She's one of the girls cute enough that every guy notices her, but she's so wrapped up in her own little world that she barely acknowledges anyone's attention. Cheerful, friendly, and witty – but seems to have no sense of when she is annoying someone.
  • Mindy Ciertowczki - wannabe-popular girl at school. In Spike's class, and has a crush on him. Tries to increase her own popularity by picking on people she sees as less important, but very insecure.


  • Miss MacManus - Tess's music teacher, who really likes her and wouldn't object if she was late
  • Mr Minchin - Tess's history teacher. Likes to continually grade his students, hanging a list on the notice board of who is at the 'top' and 'bottom' in his classes. At the start, Tess is second from bottom, Chloe is at the top, and Ashli has just managed to reach the top half of the list. Tess gets to move up the list a bit after chapter 20


  • Tess's parents (John and Trish Naylor) - Moved to San Lorenzo after chapter 3. Gabby thinks of Trish as overbearing and rude. Their move was handled by Pierson, which is probably a company name.
  • Aunt Mary - the only one of Tess's dad's family to stay in touch with him after some big argument years ago (possibly because Trish insisted in getting married at a church that's a different denomination to theirs)
  • Grandma Forton - an old lady who doesn't really understand email. Maternal grandmother to John and Gabby. No longer talks to John because she had a huge quarrel with Trish. Wants to hear from Tess, but only with Mary passing messages between them Double check this: I also have Grandma Mason in the text
  • Grandma Lexi - Trish's mother; Tess used to visit her weekly, until her parents started country-hopping
  • Gabby's parents - when she started at university, they didn't help much. She had to rent a truck to handle moving in at her first independent home, because her mum couldn't drive (disability) and her dad decided that if she's moving out of their home she's no longer his responsibility. She's barely spoken to him since.

Others / Namedrops

  • Mr Draper - one of Mr Naylor's workmates. They went on a two-week ski trip together last spring, and trusted Tess to look after herself at home
  • Alice - Tess's imaginary friend. She spent some time imagining this girl, who might have been the previous owner of all the toys in Gabby's house. Tess imagined that Alice and her three little sisters had left almost everything behind when they had to move. She speculates that Alice might be one of her classmates at school, as she knows next to nothing about her, but there's no way she could find out.
  • Adam - Ffrances's secretary/orderly
  • Mrs Hogarth - old lady, Gabby's neighbour. Her attic window is the only neighbour overlooking the back garden, but she can't see anything through the tall evergreens
  • Pete Lawrence - Works at PRMCT; Ffrances's colleague, someone she recommends Tess should see about her unusual behaviour
  • Kyle - Someone Tess speaks to on Clatter. No idea if they're a school friend, friend of a friend, or someone random.
  • Grandiel - someone Tess has spoken to on Clatter a few times
  • Jeb - one of Spike's friends
  • Dr Serra Lutwa - the doctor that Tess sees at the Ashfields District Confidential Clinic


I'd really appreciate it if someone could help me with this timeline; filling in events from the story (and tagging them with chapter numbers if possible)

The timeline is now on its own subpage: /Timeline.


  • San Lorenzo - a Mediterranean location that has a lot of tourists (not clear if SL is an island, a country, or a city)
    • Adjective: Lorenzine
    • The official language is Greek, although most of the people speak one of three different dialects. One is Turkish/Arabic with a little Greek, one Greek with a few English words, and one a rough mix of Greek and Spanish with loan words from all the others. Everyone considers their own dialect to be the "real" Lorenzine language, and most of them aren't aware of the languages the words they're using come from. Most people are good enough in English and Spanish that tourists can get by in either with no trouble.
    • Orange Quarter - part of the city that's kind of upper class. Modern art installations on every street corner. Where the Naylors live
      • Tess's parents can see the beach from their window. If they leave the blinds open they get sunrise colours on the ceiling in the morning, reflected off the ocean
    • Marble Quarter - a "Golden parachute drop zone", where American billionaires go to retire. Responsible for causing some economic problems, and pushing the cost of living in San Lorenzo way up
    • Not sure what the relative time zones are, but Tess's parents called Gabby around 3pm, and ~3 hours later they thought it was lunch time (this could mean it's lunch time in San Lorenzo, or they were trying to work out the time zone and adjusted in the wrong direction)
  • Upper Ashfields - a new town where Gabby works
    • Has a restaurant called Pasta Buffet, which seems like a regional chain. Raybridge doesn't have one, but has an independent pasta bar that vaguely imitates the styling.
    • Second largest cinema is the Regal, an artsy indie kind of place
    • Ash Crescent is where Gabby most often parks
    • Iris Lane is where Kim gets off the bus to visit Evan or Pasta Buffet. It's the most convenient stop, if you know all the little shortcuts used by locals.
    • Fitzgerald Building is where Gabby's office is
    • There's a small rural railway station which is trialing solar charging for electric trains. Some people who don't actually live in the town commute from smaller villages that are on the old line. The announcement at Upper Ashfields says that the southbound train calls at "Pine Ridge, Morganston, Greater Ashfields, Renstoke, Fazingham, Little Hoove…".
  • Greater Ashfields - the largest town in the area, and where the girls like to go shopping. It seems that Raybridge is an outlying smaller town, which has a pretty good school. The Naylors originally lived somewhere between Ashfields and Raybridge, and decided to send Tess to the older, more established school. The school's catchment area includes both most of the Greater Ashfields town centre, and the eastern third of Upper Ashfields.
    • Hilbert Avenue is one of the peripheral shopping streets, where almost all busses from the North drop off. It has a gift shop called Swaggery, which seems to specialise in tacky jewelry in many different OTT styles
    • Brunchietta - a cafe in one of the pedestrian areas. Everyone calls it Nigel's. Nigel is an older man who is rarely working there himself these days, but knows all the regular customers. Most visitors sit outside on what looks like wrought iron garden furniture, or on the public benches that stretch across a large courtyard
    • Ashfields Community Sport Centre - big leisure centre with swimming pool; includes a football field used by the Ashfields Hunters (local amateur team)
    • Malarkey & Sons - independent comic/game shop run by a quirky owner (Isaac) who has a thing about only wanting 'real fans' to touch his stock. Named after a pawnbroker/fence in the Eighth Street Pilgrims arc of Millhouse Underground. Descriptions in TLNS chapter 61 / MCK chapter 60. Isaac has some history with Ffrances.
  • Raybridge
    • Raybridge High - Tess's school
      • There's a little block of cheap apartments opposite
    • There's a homeless shelter on Lairon Street
  • Palmerston - a trashy new-build estate 'north of Pine Ridge', right on the edge of the Raybridge school district. Gabby lives here
    • From Gabby's house to the nearest school bus stop is fifteen minutes walk
    • There's a takeaway pizza place called Dominique's Pizza Shed near the bus stop. When the lights are off before it opens, Tess can see her reflection in the big glass window at the front. Named in parody of regional chain Dominic's Pizza Yurt (the owners originally knew each other)
    • There's also a place called "Palmerston, Oregon", setting of the TV series Live From Palmerston!. No details about the show given yet; or whether Palmerston, Oregon really exists. But there's a pop culture meme thing, any time someone mentions Palmerston the default response is "Palmerston, Oregon?" regardless of whether someone is talking about the show or a real place by that name
  • There's a circular bus that goes between Palmerston and Greater Ashfields, looping all round the houses at both ends. Gabby's house is near the point where the route leaves Palmerston. It takes about half an hour for the part of the route within Palmerston, which can be skipped by disembarking at Misty Lane (the marsh road that leads to Tollerville) and cutting through an alley between two blocks of houses.
  • Pine Ridge - somewhere between Raybridge and Palmerston.
    • Pine Ridge Municipal Care Trust - A large cluster of red brick buildings, larger than the village itself, which is a weird combination of a hospital and retirement home. Ffrances works there as a therapist. The back gate leads to a bit of scrubby ground studded with randomly-planted pine trees, where Ffrances and Gabby sometimes meet on her breaks. Local kids also hang out there sometimes.
      • One of the streets going past is Brock Street
    • Ffrances lives on Clemont Avenue
  • Helmsford - a large town that is quite some distance away; site of the Grand Theatre.
    • There's a high class Russian restaurant with a balcony that overlooks the town centre
    • McRory's Bar and Steak Pit - another place to get lunch (described inMCK chapter 25)