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Suddenly there are questions demanding to be answered. Where is he disappearing to each day? How will she explain to Timby about the sister she never talks about? And what will happen to The Flood Girls? Long since consigned to the back of the closet. We also experience the crazy thoughts that often flit in and out of her head.

Thoughts we can all relate to and the unexplained conclusions we leap to and in turn the consequences they have on our happiness. Today Will Be Different shares the hope that we can learn to be more accepting of who we are and allow ourselves to be happier. Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize Our first-person narrator, Anne Jaccobs, is an extraordinary young woman for her period. This is Georgian London in and she a lady eager to learn.

Her well-to-do family have plans for her but year old Anne is an interesting, forceful character. In a novel rich in period detail we follow this spirited girl through some highly unexpected scenarios which two-thirds of the way through the book turn into a bawdy romp. At times dark, at times humorous, this is an historical novel not to be missed, a debut from the much-loved Blue Peter presenter.

Winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize He takes it to a Lovell, a banker based on Golden Hill Street, in order to have it cashed. Speculation is duly aroused: what on earth is Smith planning to do with such a quantity of cash? The depiction of place is gratifyingly sensory. While the puzzle at the heart of the novel is not revealed until the very last pages, the plentiful and nimbly executed plot twists provide much satisfaction throughout. Part mystery, part homage to eighteenth century literature, this is an exuberant literary delight with all the readability of a page-turner.

A great, unruly city is being born. Francis Spufford creates a world that is hypnotic and believable, brought to life in sparkling prose and pitch-perfect dialogue, and tells a gripping story that's full of tension and surprise, with characters who live on after the book is closed. His non-fiction writing has been much-admired.

This first novel is an astonishing achievement because his novelist's voice is already enticing, rich and mature. An eighteenth-century treat. October Debut of the Month. Arthur quickly realises that before she met him, his wife had a whole host of experiences, and Arthur knew nothing about them! Phaedra Patrick writes with a beautifully light touch, yet imbues each page with a meaningful eloquence. Arthur is a joy to get to know, you feel his sadness and bewilderment at his loneliness and loss, then as he steps out on his quest, you witness his cloistered heart and mind unfurling towards the possibilities that life can offer.

This is a beautiful little gem of a read and I highly recommend it. Sarah Broadhurst's view Early on we meet Lucy, twenty-four, who needs a heart transplant. She is a plucky girl trying to live a normal life greatly hampered by her sad ill health. For eighteen months she has been on the transplant list.

Preparing to go on her first holiday ever with just her sister her family watch the television News and a report on a train crash which eventually turns into a motorway crash. Among the victims are three close women friends, all badly injured. We swing back four months and get to know these three, their reliance on each other and their reason for being in that crash.

Interspersed with their lives is their post-accident hospital treatment where surely one will die for Lucy to get her heart. This is a tale exploring many strong issues; fertility, loyalty, betrayal, responsibility, young motherhood, divorce, independence, dementia and much more. Pretty powerful stuff and excellent for reading groups.

This witty and twisty tale of an elderly con man intent on a final hurrah when he initially goes on a blind date with a retired, wealthy woman, brings more than smiles to the face. However she is not all she appears to be and as his own past is slowly unveiled in parallel to the con he studiously devotes himself to, increasing layers of lies and domestic intrigue are revealed which often turn the elaborate plot upside down.

With echoes of Patricia Highsmith but without the die-hard cynicism, this is an affectionate and deliberately old fashioned psychological thriller with just the right touch of humour and humanity. Engrossing and with a tightly-engineered plot that holds surprises at every corner and what is there to dislike in a thriller where the main character is in his 80s?

Just fabulous. This is one of those wonderfully rare books that sets you in the middle of a familiar location and then prowls down a previously unexplored and unexpected path. Exquisitely pitch perfect, with clear and self assured writing, the story slides backwards in time, releasing information, raising suspicions and spiralling down into darkness. As I turned the last page, I paused, and felt within, one of those electrifying moments before applause bursts forth. I want to tell you about this fabulously compelling novel Viking is publishing in January. The response within Penguin has been extraordinary so far — with staff in every department raving about it.

His target is Betty, a woman whom he is planning to seduce and then run off with her life savings. Roy is incredibly creepy and Betty is wonderfully admirable, if a little mysterious. The twists and turns of the narrative are endlessly surprising. I have also, only very occasionally witnessed such an amazing in-house response. It would be terrific if you liked the book as much as we all do. Thanks so much for your time.

Shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize Traversing continents and generations, this sublime debut explores identity, self-sacrifice and dislocation with elegance and wit. Despite sharing a bed with Odile, Yuki never feels close to her. Odile is wrapped up in forging a modeling career, and then heads to Italy, abandoning Yuki to Lillian and her violent boyfriend.

Abandonment, loneliness, and seeking solace from loneliness are recurring themes. Some years later, when she has a home, a husband who loves her, a baby son, and the talent to be an artist, Yuki remains unsettled, and feels a desperate desire to leave. August Book of the Month. Tense and full of intrigue, this is a novel that sinks into the depths of obsession and discovers a very dangerous game afoot. The newly opened, glamorous lido calls to Natalie and in one summer her life changes beyond all recognition.

The prologue and first chapter declare from the outset that a dramatic event has occurred. The story explores the whole of the summer, occasionally touching on the past and then suddenly switching directly to the aftermath. These jarring changes in time create a feeling of foreboding as the timelines slide towards their inevitable collision. Louise Candlish excels in looking at the darker side of relationships, she discovers thoughts and feelings that are recognisable but at the same time feel dangerously untouched. As decadent and scandalous as New York Society in the roaring twenties, A Certain Age will whisk you back to a time of Jazz, elegance, charm, and murder as only Beatriz Williams can.

The world is slowly recovering from the horrors of the Great War. She turns to Rofrano to carry out this small favour and sets in motion a string of events that will change their lives forever. Thrilling and heady, A Certain Age is a delightful novel to escape into. Click here to view the Reading Group Notes for this title. A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. July Debut of the Month and eBook of the Month. From the author of Possession and The Children's Book comes an extraordinary tale, inspired by the myth of Ragnarok. Intensely autobiographical and linguistically stunning, this book is a landmark work of fiction from one of Britain's truly great writers.

You might also say it's timely in that it is a book about how stories can give us the courage to face our own demise. So just as Wagner's Ring Cycle was inspired by Norse myth so Byatt has taken this remarkable finale and used it as the underpinning of this highly personal and politically charged retelling.

July Book of the Month. Also very present are the Gods themselves, playing with lives, betting on battles and arguing amongst themselves. It is a well-known tale, moving, frightening, bloody. This re-telling shows a feminine side, away from the battles but still dependent on their outcome. It is an engrossing world, easy to fall into. As spies, lovers, slaves and prophets these women of Troy show themselves the equal of the more famous men.

Even if you know the story well this is still an entrancing read. A beautifully quirky, yet at the same time completely logical love story well it is logical once you've realised that you too, have fallen in love with an alligator. I believe that John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway would remember their parts in this tale with glee, who wouldn't want to have been introduced to the charming and rather glorious Albert?

I quite simply devoured this enchanting book in one sitting, and I will want to read it again and again. It is easy to think of the Celts as savages and the Romans as the bringers of civilisation when in fact Celtic society was complex and well-structured. Skin captures the flavour of that ancient time beautifully. The people feel a strong connection to nature and magic is everywhere. Within this ordered society Ailia is a misfit. A wonderful narrator full of youthful fire, fear, confusion and joy. Her journey is strange and compelling, for her and the reader, as she is torn between loves and duties in two different worlds.

A thrillingly realised and richly populated novel, imbued with a wealth of historical detail, suffused with the magic of place and plotted with verve. It is difficult to know if this huge, sprawling novel would have quite the same appeal if you had not read the first two but I suspect you could probably dive into this as a complex historical adventure of India and China in the middle of the 19th century when the East India Company had great power. It mostly revolves round opium. The story jumps from one strand to another for the first half of the book with some truly lovely cameo pieces, a joy.

It is also a beautiful novel in its own right, and a compelling conclusion to an epic and sweeping story - the bestselling Ibis trilogy from the author of Booker-shortlisted Sea of Poppies - it is nothing short of a masterpiece. The Ibis Trilogy Sea of Poppies2. River of Smoke3. Flood of Fire. Pencraw Hall, Cornwall, is a beautiful old house, the holiday retreat for the well-off Alton family of four children, twins and then a couple much younger, a hard-working father and a young, gregarious American mother, very liberal.

Wonderful times are had at Pencraw in the late 60s. It is nicknamed Black Rabbit Hall due to the silhouette of numerous rabbits which actually lead to the tragedy that shatters the family. We follow them and in alternating sections, Lorna, thirty years later who is looking for a wedding venue and is inexplicably drawn to the now decaying house and its mysterious occupants.

This is straight down the line pure country house, classic mystery, wonderful stuff. Suspenseful, haunting, startling and full of the unexpected.

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This isn't exactly a love story, it is rather, a tale about love, in all its different forms. While Cora and Will form the heart of this novel, every member of the surrounding cast is as important as these two, each fitting into a perfectly formed relationship jigsaw. At times they may not be likeable, they may have their quirks, their differences, yet they are so well formed, it is possible to feel empathy as you question a decision or comment made. The Essex serpent coiled and waiting, exploits fear and mistrust, creating a fascinating setting in which connections flourish and wither.

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At times the Victorian setting vanished and the relationships felt very current and modern, while at others the different time period proclaimed the complications and difficulties faced by anyone judged as being different. Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award And then there are those books that you become so close to that you almost feel as though they are a part of you. It is a sumptuously imagined novel of lives playing out against bigger historical moments, and it is the most unusual and moving love story I have ever read.

June Book of the Month and eBook of the Month. Ferney was one of my all time favourite books of the year it was published, It tells of a love through the ages, a tale of reincarnation, passion, longing, history and mystery. This is its sequel. You do not have to have read Ferney first but I would highly recommend that you do so.

This is a modern day love story bound up in the memory of past lives. It brilliantly brings together all the loose threads to a fulfilling conclusion that leaves a shiver down your back. To reunite the characters again, James Long has a school out, an archaeological dig, a busy mother and a mystified teacher all there to join up Ferney and Gally. Long said that "you either bore people with the complexity of the scenario who already know about it, or you baffle them. Abandoned by his long-time girlfriend, travel writer Paul goes to Tuscany to research his next book. Arrangements are made but upon arrival no car is available.

Enter one bulldozer, a wacky scenario which results in some charming pieces. Paul enters village life and that atmosphere is vividly and warmly described. Then long-time girlfriend turns up and life gets complicated. Only McCall Smith has the literary dexterity to pull this off. May Debut of the Month. Longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction A bittersweet, page-turning love story which jumps back and forth in time. It tells of a Japanese couple, Ameterasu and Kenzo, now living in America and the loss of their daughter and grandson after the bomb dropped on Nagasaki.

The identity of these men is at the centre of this tale. So the past is revealed to us in dramatic bursts and Ameterau tells us of the emotional conflict between her and her daughter: so sad. At the beginning of each chapter there is a Japanese word and an explanation of its meaning and usage, not always relevant but always interesting, hence the title. A captivating and deeply dark family drama and mystery, set in the midst of a London communal garden square. The story then spins backwards in time, to Clare and her two daughters, Pip and Grace, as they get to know their new neighbours.

Focusing on several families, the story weaves among the children and adults as it begins to traverse a slippery and sinister slope. Lisa Jewell explores friendship, trust and suspicion. She writes with a familiar light touch, yet a threatening presence hovers over the pages and the innermost thoughts and feelings of the characters bubble with intensity. Beautiful adventurous Maisy and loyal, knowing ayah Pushpa tell their own tales, which are inextricably linked to each other. Louise Brown writes with the lightest of touches, yet is able to convey earthy, vibrant tones with an expressive eloquence.

There are occasional moments of heart wrenching savagery, described by a character in such an unaffected, matter of fact way, that the thrust travels all the more intensely. My imagination soaked up this moving tale, the emotion it generated constantly surprising as I found myself transported to an exotically precarious world. Her mother is a prostitute and alcoholic, and when Maisy is seduced at sixteen by her Indian tutor, her life changes forever, for better and for worse.

What sets it apart from me is the incredibly vivid sense of location, from the backstreets of the shared housing in Calcutta to the colonial bungalows beautifully wrapped by their flower-filled gardens — both dwellings are places that provide comfort and yet entrapment, too. The author also delves into some very serious issues simmering beneath the love story that arcs over the novel.

It portrays an alternative story to the usual stories of dusty haired, bored British Colonial wives. It's colourful, rich in detail, probing in subject matter and beautifully researched. A wonderfully unconventional and thought-provoking read, where a mystery waiting to be solved shelters behind a penetrating and wryly emotional family tale. The first paragraph, short as it is, marks itself indelibly in your minds eye, it also encapsulates the detached and challenging personality of Morwenna, the narrator.

As the story ponders the weight of family expectations it also peeks at the tricky complexity that is imagination versus recollection and how often the two blend into a murky uncertainty. Julia Rochester has a fascinating way with words, words to make you stop, think and consider, she captures your thought processes and then hurls them in an unexpected direction. This is an intelligent, discerning and surprising debut novel and deserves to be highly recommended.

She brings the landscape to life just as she does her characters. We all felt we were with them at key points in the book. Winner of the Costa First Novel Award Perhaps it's the sheets of rain which fall continuously on The Loney, that " wild and useless length of English coastline", a "strange nowhere between the Wyre and the Lune where Hanny and I went every Easter time with Mummer, Farther, Mr and Mrs Belderboss and Father Wilfred, the parish priest", but I've not read so chilling a horror novel for years. The setting for an Easter-time Catholic pilgrimage for Andrew Michael Hurley's teenage narrator, his mentally handicapped brother and a motley collection of parishioners, the dread builds slowly but inexorably, as strange movements from creepy locals start to intrude on the religious retreat, and it becomes clear that while some might be looking "for God in the emerging springtime", others are on the trail of something entirely different.

A truly eerie, captivating read, as mysterious and disturbing as its foggy, wet, bleak location. Masterfully pulled off. It's great April Debut of the Month. April Book of the Month. Totally and utterly and completely gorgeous in every way, the thought of having to put this book down for even a second is inconceivable.

The first few pages make you smile, make you laugh and charm you, there is a hint though, of the difficulties that seven nearly eight year old Elsa is experiencing. There is a beautiful simplicity to the writing, yet this is not a simple book by any means, there is a complexity to the emotions it evokes and explores.

Set aside some quality time, so you can laugh and cry undisturbed, as the author is able to enchant, to capture your imagination and hold it spellbound from the first to the last page; this is a must have, must read, must treasure book. Fox recollects meeting the love of his life just after the Second World War, while in the present, grieving the death of his wife, his grandson helps him reconnect with music and the world around him.

There is a beguiling sense of honesty to the story, it feels as though Fox is seeking peace and reconciliation not only with others, but also with himself. Natasha Solomons has a wonderful ability to connect to thoughts and feelings and bring them to life, make them feel totally and completely real. There aren't any cunning tricks, hidden mysteries or unpredictable events lurking to hijack you, just a beautifully written, special and moving story waiting to be heard.

April Reading Group Book of the Month. A compelling, almost bittersweet read, where a shocking discovery leads to an emotional journey. Amanda Jennings encourages Bella to step out of herself, on occasion the words create an almost dreamlike quality, while on others short sharp sentences jolted me back into reality. As shafts of understanding light the pages, shocking moments still lie in wait, ready to trip up your thoughts and feelings.

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In Her Wake is a chilling, exquisitely written and evocative thriller that hinges on the abduction of a child, and the effect this crime has on everyone connected with it. In Her Wake has bestseller written all over it, and in terms of psychological thrillers, I cannot think of even one that matches it.

When a host of highly regarded, well-known authors submitted their endorsements, one after one, in a virtual flood, my heart nearly burst with pride for Amanda. This is a book you will never, ever forget. Winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award-winning Frances Hardinge is spellbinding in this hugely entertaining and dramatic Victorian thriller. Discovering the extraordinary Lie Tree which thrives off hearing lies and, in turn, reveals secrets long kept hidden Faith begins to uncover a web of secrets and mysteries that will change her view of the world forever.

Faith is a feisty heroine whose courage combined with a determination that girls can be brave and resolute leads to the exposure of much dishonesty and many deceptions. We loved the first in this post WW2 series, Brighton Belle, and the second adventure is even better with a satisfyingly complex plot bubbling over with period detail. Nostalgic, atmospheric, well written, crime fiction with a fantastic central character - ex Secret Service office girl Mirabelle Bevan.

Sara just pulled me into the world of wintry post-war London, seedy jazz clubs and a missing heiress. During editing Sara and I had many conversations about everything from car models and radio shows to rail travel, pies and shoes. No detail is too small for Sara, she really is obsessed with getting things absolutely right for the period of London Calling. As a result her writing evokes the early s impeccably, creating wonderful atmosphere and the perfect background to Mirabelle Bevan, a deeply engaging woman with a past. A delightfully unique and quirky novel that is able to provoke a sledgehammer of emotions into action.

Three friends are due to take part in the annual Brilliant and Forever literary competition, and this is a competition with a difference. While the focus remains on the three friends, the competition entries are included, consequently we read stories within the story, which encourages thought processes to fly in new directions. The writing is different, at times quite beautiful, while at others I sat and scratched my head as I puzzled and allowed thoughts to float just out of reach.

Kevin MacNeil has created a striking, often amusing, sometimes menacing, and provocative tale.

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As soon as I had finished, I re-opened the book at random, sat back down and started to read again. Talking alpacas! A wonderful and fascinating insight into hidden happenings at Wuthering Heights, from the perspective of Nelly Dean. Alison Case has gently and sensitively linked these two novels with a velvet ribbon of empathy and consideration. This story creeps into the background detail; the daily working of life in service and the moors and surroundings are all bought vibrantly to life. Hidden depths are revealed, heartrending secrets are spoken and a new panorama of understanding is offered for discovery.

March Reading Group Book of the Month. Kate Riordan has written another heartfelt beautifully readable novel about two families, set in the dual time frames of and As a tragedy unfolds in front of our eyes in the prologue, captivating whispers of intrigue continue to echo through the tale. The story revolves around Fenix House, a family home where Grace arrives as Governess in , her Grandmother Harriet held the same position in but in very different circumstances.

The undertones of unease reflect through each story as connecting circles ripple and expand, linking the two until they become one. There is a gentle luminosity to the writing, it embraces you as you read, both poignant and moving, 'The Shadow Hour' is quite simply gorgeous. It also comes complete with an extract for The Shadow Hour. Shorlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize Set between and , Gavin McCrea has planted this story in fact, and then weaved a magical yet earthy tale.

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Lizzie Burns was a woman of practical strength and determination, she takes the reader into her confidence and tells her own story, and what an amazing tale it is! The language surprises on occasion, and may cause a raised eyebrow, it is so full of attitude and down to earth. Lizzie Burns was a woman who would have been extraordinary today, the voice McCrea has created is startling, and this is a simply wonderful and entirely captivating debut. The writing always surprises, his characters are compelling without having to be likeable and, as all of we judges noted, Mrs Engels is perhaps the most feminist novel we read for the Prize.

February Book of the Month. Coming after Snowdrops, A. Miller's Booker-shortlisted Moscow spy thriller, The Faithful Couple is a very different sort of creature altogether, a novel about male bonding, class and the vagaries of life, growing up and passing years that resonates deeply with both sometimes the voice and structural touch of David Nicholl's measured novels of ordinary people. Two young Englishsmen meet in California on an American gap year and forge a fascinating friendship in which envy and admiration make for awkward companions.

An encounter they make whilst on a trip to Yosemite in which neither comes off with much honour will mark the rest of their lives and the ties binding them. The progress of their careers and love lives is examined at regular intervals with irony and acuity and their paths take surprising turns. A slow-building novel of British manners that grows on you page by page. With strong psychological and sexual components, the terse prose style draws you into a very recognisable world yet seen through an intensely strange filter.

A literary human drama of the highest calibre. One of our YA Books of the Year February NewGen Book of the Month. A deeply powerful novel for emotionally mature readers about surviving rape, speaking out and the ways in which women are forced to burden the blame for misogynist brutalities. Rather, to Romy, make-up is armour, and worn for good reason.

Romy goes missing on the night of the notorious annual lake party and wakes up on the roadside. When it emerges that another girl, Penny, went missing that same night, people turn on Romy again. For a time Romy bears the abuse, but knows she has to break her silence about what really happened that night. Mysterious, exciting, immensely rewarding, it is one of those memorable books that has to be among your of all-time favourites.

I fell in love with this book when it was first published in It did moderately well but not as well as it should. I think one of the problems was that up until then James Long had written adventure spy stories, he was formerly BBC correspondent and certainly knew his stuff — but then he produced this enthralling, tangled love story.

It is such a wonderful, uplifting and unusual story of a couple settling in Somerset. As they renovate their house they discover its history, meet a previous inhabitant and unlock its secrets. Beautifully thought-provoking and yet simply and effortlessly readable, this is an intimate compassionate dance with life, death and hope. Read the first letter, followed by the prologue and you think you know exactly what this is going to be, a book that makes you cry, however there is so, so much more to be experienced than heartache. The author allows us to see moments in time for four different people, it feels as though she has a deeply affectionate link to all four, all the more so when we see their inner confusion, agitation and pain.

The fleeting links become important and create stories within stories. The individual letters, so expressive and eloquent, sad, sometimes funny, create a pause, yet at the same time unify the feel and the emotion of this story. A teenager in the eighties and nineties, before any one had heard of emails or texts, I always wrote to old school friends to keep in touch, and they always wrote back. Letters would be long-winded, funny, fully illustrated, addressed to made-up names.

Then gradually over the years that followed it stopped being necessary to put pen to paper, in almost any form. Now we can say - to a loved one, and old friend, even a celebrity - what ever we want to say, instantly and often, publicly. I had started with a plan to write a letter, and post it every week, and it had been going really well. And then in the summer my youngest son was injured, in a deeply traumatic way, that although was not life threatening, shook my family very deeply.

My letter writing stalled, and never really found its feet again, but over those difficult, deeply upsetting weeks of summer, I got three letters from dear friends. Friends who knew what our family was dealing with, who knew how hard it had hit me, who knew that I was finding it difficult to find my feet again. Those three letters, each one unique, were little pieces of the people who wrote them, coming through my letterbox to offer me a hand of friendship.

It captures a moment in time, a feeling, a thought and a sentiment and it preserves it, for as long as the letter is preserved. It becomes a lasting token of what would otherwise be fleeting. So I keep those three letters in a special place, with my special things, because it meant so much to me that my friends took the time to think of me, and write those thoughts down. A 'Piece of Passion from the Publisher This is a sensitive, often funny and thoroughly engaging story of teenagers coming to terms with who they are. David has known since the age of eight that he wants to be a girl.

New boy Leo seems to have problems too and when the two become friends they discover they have more in common than they ever thought. This ultra-readable, highly entertaining story could also provide readers with some much needed reassurance that normal is as normal does.

Alice Liddell, the young inspiration for Lewis Caroll, is the great-grandmother of the author of this novel. Seventeen-year old Peggy has recently returned home, initially we know not from where. Her father is dead, her mother has destroyed all evidence of him from their home. Peggy has a nine-year old brother who she has only just met. Slowly we are drip-fed an extraordinary tale of madness and survival.

Young eight-year old Peggy spent an idyllic summer living rough with her father, learning survival skills. He then takes her on a trek across Europe to a deserted wooden hut where they turn native for he believes the world has ended and he and Peggy the only people left alive. How he dies and she eventually gets home is the heart of this terrific tale. It is an unusual, atmospheric, alarming, horrifying tale of madness and survival.

This is a completely charming and very different slice of World War Two fiction. The prologue sets the story beautifully, releasing snippets of information yet encouraging you to feel, to appreciate the heart and soul of Noel. Lissa Evans balances a gentle charm with barbed spikes of wit and reality. The other characters are as vibrant and fully formed, even those with walk on parts light up the pages.

Winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize. Winner of the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction A quite simply sensational debut, one that reaches into the beastly heart of prostitution, drugs, and violence, and makes it relatable and so very very human. Set in Ireland, an accidental murder twists the lives of five Cork residents into warped disarray. The five stories nudge, then collide together as they become one. I found I had to re-read the first paragraph, it felt deliberate, a statement of intent, once I was used to the style, I quite simply devoured this stunning novel.

Lisa McInerney writes with eloquent beauty, words either gang up together to punch and kick your thoughts, or they linger, waiting to kiss your soul. Lisa McInerney has a distinct and powerful voice, I found this beguiling, mesmerising and on occasion wonderfully shocking. Lisa is a genuinely exciting writer — there is electricity running through her prose.

A fresh new voice and a wonderful winner". An engaging and satisfying family tale, full of drama and emotion. Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn breathes life into characters that have aching vulnerabilities. She occasionally frees notes of emotion that twang and jar and set your feelings on edge, consequently the characters are realistic and convincing.

The writing flows, sometimes leaving unexplored pockets of what-ifs, just like life itself. Click here to view a reading group guide for this book. Author: T. An intriguing and successful experiment in presenting a crime thriller from a different angle, Richmond's accomplished debut encourages the reader to become the sleuth.

Alice Salmon dies in what initially appears a tragic case of drowning. An academic tries to assemble the pieces together and get to the bottom of the mystery and we follow his attempts through the traces of herself Alice scattered in her wake, online and elsewhere: tweets, newspaper cuttings, blogs, diaries, letters, emails. An ever-shifting perspective blurs before the reader's eyes until the whole begins to coalesce and unpeels layers and layers of deceipt and secrets. Another variation on the currently thriving unreliable female narrator bandwagon but one that makes it work in a unique manner.

Will give you a lot of second thoughts about what you leave behind in your own day to day life! Genuinely chilling. This is likely to be one of 's most haunting and unforgettable debuts. Accident, murder or suicide? Rain Reign Martin, Ann M. The Invisible Man Wells, H. Come play with cube puzzles and explore the different colors, shapes, and styles of these fascinating toys. Learn about cubing competitions and meet Maddie, an actual competitor. No registration required, just drop in. Leveled Reading.

To find out what is available at your reading level, click the level link below. Catwings LeGuin, Ursula K. T he Big Blueberry Barf-Off! Stine, R. No one, not even Rose Emily, had ever hinted to her of this secret ecstasy at the heart of experience. All around her people were pretending that insignificant things were the only important things.

The eternal gestures of milking and cooking, of sowing and reaping! Existence, as far as she could see, was composed of these immemorial habits.

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Her mother, her father, her brother, Nathan and Rose Emily, all these persons whom she saw daily were engaged in this strange conspiracy of dissimulation. Not one of them had ever betrayed to her this hidden knowledge of life. Beyond the old Haney place and the stretch of pines there were the pastures of Honeycomb Farm, where three old maids, Miss Texanna Snead, the postmistress, and her sisters Seena and Tabitha, who made dresses, lived on the ragged remnant of once fertile acres. Recently the younger brother William had returned from the West with a little property, and though the fortunes of the sisters were by no means affluent, the fields by the roadside were beginning to look less forlorn.

A few bedraggled sheep, huddled together beyond the "worm" fence, stared at her through the hurrying snowflakes. Then, springing to their awkward legs, they wavered uncertainly for a minute, and at last scampered off, bleating foolishly. An old horse rested his head on the rails and gazed meditatively after her as she went by, and across the road several cows filed slowly on their way from the pasture to the cow-barn. There was the steady clop-clop of a horse's hoofs, and the rapid turning of wheels in the road behind her.

Not for the world would she have slackened her pace or glanced over her shoulder, though her heart fluttered in her throat and she felt that she was choking. She longed with all her soul to stop and look back; she knew, through some magnetic current, that he was pursuing her, that in a minute or two he would overtake her; yet she kept on rapidly, driven by a blind impulse which was superior to her will. She was facing the moment, which comes to all women in love, when life, overflowing the artificial boundaries of reason, yields itself to the primitive direction of instinct.

The wheels were grinding on a rocky place in the road. Though she hurried on, the beating of her heart was so loud in her ears that it filled the universe. She stopped and turned, while all the glimmering light of the snow gathered in her orange shawl and deepened its hue. Around them the steep horizon seemed to draw closer. He laughed, and the sound quickened her pulses. For an instant a divine dizziness possessed her. Without looking at him, she saw his eyes, black in the pallid snowflakes, his red hair, just the colour of the clay in the road, his charming boyish smile, so kind, so eager, so incredibly pathetic when she remembered it afterwards.

She saw these disturbing details with the sense of familiarity which events borrow from the dream they repeat. But you might get in. She shook her head, and just as in every imaginary encounter with him, she could think of nothing to reply. Though her mind worked clearly enough at other times, she stood now in a trance between the rail fence, where the old horse was still watching her, and the wheel-ruts in the road. By some accident, for which nothing in her past experience had prepared her, all the laws of her being, thought, will, memory, habit, were suspended.

In their place a force which was stronger than all these things together, a force with which she had never reckoned before, dominated her being. The powers of life had seized her as an eagle seizes its prey. At this moment, when of all the occasions in her life she longed to be most brilliant and animated, she was tongue-tied by an immobility which was like the drowsiness, only far pleasanter, that she felt in church on hot August afternoons.

Were your eyes always as big as they are now? Though she was drowning in bliss, she could only gaze at him stupidly. Why did love, when it came, take away all your ability to enjoy it? The haunting pathos, which she detected but could not explain, looked out of his eyes; the pathos of heroic weakness confronting insurmountable obstacles.

But as soon as he gets better, or if he dies," his tone was kind but impersonal, "I'll go back again and take up my work. I had just got my degree, and was starting in for a year's experience in a big hospital. Until I came I thought it was for a few days. The doctor telegraphed that Father wouldn't last out the week; but he's picked up, and may go on for a while yet. I can't leave him until he is out of danger, and in the meantime I'm trying to enlighten the natives.

Nobody seems to ask any more of life than to plod from one bad harvest to another. They don't know the first principles of farming, except of course Mr. Ellgood, who has made a success of Green Acres, and that clownish-looking chap who owns the store. I wonder what the first Pedlar's were like. The family must have been in the same spot for a hundred and fifty years.

But most of the other farmers are tenants. Pa says that's why the land has gone bad. No man will work himself to death over somebody else's land. Even the negroes become thrifty when they own a piece of land. And I've noticed, by the way, that they are the best farmers about here. The negro who owns his ten or twelve acres is a better manager than the poor white with twice the number. All her life she had heard men talk of farming and of nothing else. Surely there were other things he could tell her!

Turning to her suddenly, he brushed the snowflakes from the fur robe over her knees. His gestures, like his personality, were firm, energetic, and indescribably casual. Against the brooding loneliness of the country his figure, for all its youthful audacity, appeared trivial and fugitive. It was as if the landscape waited, plunged in melancholy, for the passing of a ray of sunshine. Though he had sprung from the soil, he had returned to it a stranger, and there could be no sympathetic communion between him and the solitude.

Neither as a lover nor as a conqueror could he hope to possess it in spirit. When I first went to the store, I was listening so hard for the trains that I couldn't hear anything else. Her lashes fluttered over the burning blue of her eyes. If only he could know how recently she had got over it! When I'm forty I may feel differently. By that time I shan't have any books left to read. He laughed. That will be worth while, I suppose. I ought to be able to teach them something in a few weeks.

If she had been older or wiser, she might have smiled at his assurance. As it was she repeated gently, innocent of ironical intention, "Yes, that will be worth while. It was enough just to sit near him in silence; to watch, through lowered lashes, the tremor of his smile, the blinking of his eyelids, the way the pale reddish hair grew on the back of his neck, the indolent grasp with which he was holding the reins. It was enough, she felt, just to breathe in the stimulating smell of his cigarettes, so different from the heavy odour of country tobacco. And outside this enchanted circle in which they moved, she was aware of the falling snow, of the vague brown of the fields, of the sharp freshness of the approaching evening, of the thick familiar scents of the winter twilight.

Far away a dog barked. The mingled effluvia of rotting leaves and manure-heaps in barnyards drifted toward her. From beyond a fence the sound of voices floated. These things belonged, she knew, to the actual world; they had no place in the celestial sphere of enchantment. Yet both the actual and the ideal seemed to occur within her mind. She could not separate the scent of leaves or the sound of distant voices from the tumult of her thoughts. They passed Honeycomb Farm, and sped lightly over a mile of rutted track to the fork of the Old Stage Road, where a blasted oak of tremendous height stood beside the ruins of a burned cabin.

On the other side of the way there was the big red gate of Five Oaks, and beyond it a sandy branch road ran farther on to the old brick house. The snow hid the view now; but on clear days the red roof and chimneys of the house were visible above the willow branches of Gooseneck Creek. Usually, as the mare knew, the doctor's buggy turned in at the big gate; but to-day it passed by and followed the main road, which dipped and rose and dipped again on its way to Old Farm.

First there was a thin border of woods, flung off sharply, like an iron fretwork, against the sky; then a strip of corduroy road and a bridge of logs over a marshy stream; and beyond the bridge, on the right, stood, the open gate of Dorinda's home. The mare stumbled and the buggy swerved on the rocky grade to the lawn.

Pa is always hoping that he will have time to fix it. We used to keep the gate shut, but it has sagged so that it has to stay open. Within its grove of trees, in the midst of last summer's weeds, which were never cut, the long whitewashed house wore a forlorn yet not inhospitable air. Through the snow the hooded roof looked close and secretive; but there was the glimmer of a lamp in one of the lower windows, enormous lilac bushes, which must lend gaiety in April, clustered about the porch, and the spreading frame wings, added by old John Calvin Abernethy, still gave an impression of comfort.

It was the ordinary Virginian farm-house of the early nineteenth century, built for service rather than for beauty; and retaining, because of its simplicity, a charm which had long since departed from more ambitious pieces of architecture. The buggy had come to a stop by the front steps, and regardless of the mare's impatience, he sprang to the ground and helped the girl to alight.

She lifted her face to his as she answered, and while he looked down into her eyes, a quiver passed over his mouth under the short red moustache. She looked down. But I've worked in the store ever since Mrs. Pedlar was taken ill. I get there about eight usually and stay until just before sunset. In good weather I'd rather be out of doors. Besides somebody usually picks me up. As I did this evening. If I hadn't, it would have been after dark when you got home.

Again the dumbness seized her, and she stood there rooted like a plant, while he looked at her. For a moment, so intent was his gaze, she felt that he had forgotten her presence. It was not in the least as if he were staring at her shawl or her mud-stained ulster, or her broken shoes; it was not even as if he were looking at her eyes and thinking how blue they were. No, it was just as if he were seeing something within his own mind.

I shall see you soon. After he had driven away, she stood gazing after him. Again the mare hesitated, again the wheels crunched on the rocky place. Then the buggy rolled over the bridge; she heard the sound of his voice as he avoided a hole; and a minute later the vehicle had disappeared in the border of leafless woods. Eight words, and the something different had at last happened to her! Everything around her appeared fresh and strange and wonderful, as if she were looking at it clearly for the first time. The snow wrapped her softly like a mist of happiness. She felt it caressing her cheek, and it seemed to her, when she moved, that her whole body had grown softer, lighter, more intensely alive.

Her inner life, which had been as bare as a rock, was suddenly rich with bloom. Never again could she find the hours dull and empty. I shall see you soon," sang her thoughts. As she stepped on the porch, Rambler, an old black and yellow hound, with flapping ears and the expression of a pragmatic philosopher, stole out of the shadows and joined her. She wondered if the suppressed excitement showed also in her face, and if her mother, who noticed everything, would detect it.

After she had entered the hall, which smelled of bacon and dried apples, she stopped and tried to rub the bloom of ecstasy off her cheeks. Then, followed sedately by Rambler, she passed the closed door of the parlour, which was opened only for funerals or when the circuit minister was visiting them, and went into the kitchen at the back of the house.

The family must have heard the wheels, and it was a mercy, she told herself, that Rufus or Josiah had not come out to meet the buggy. Her eyes blinked in the light; but it was not the smoky flare of the lamp on the table that made the big kitchen, with its rough whitewashed walls, its old-fashioned cooking-stove, its dilapidated pine table and chairs, its battered pots and pans suspended from nails, its unused churn standing in the accustomed place on the brick hearth--it was not the lamp that made the room appear as unfamiliar as if she had never seen it before.

Nor was it the lamp that cast this peculiar haziness, like a distant perspective, over the members of her family. Oakley, a tall, lean, angular woman, who had been almost beautiful for a little while forty years before, placed the coffee-pot on the table before she turned to look at her daughter. Under her sparse grey hair, which was strained tightly back and twisted in a small knot on her head, her face was so worn by suffering that a network of nerves quivered beneath the pallid veil of her flesh. Religious depression, from which she still suffered periodically, had refined her features to austerity.

Her pale grey eyes, with their wide fixed stare, appeared to look out of caverns, and endowed her with the visionary gaze of a mystic, like the eyes of a saint in a primitive Italian painting. Years ago, while Dorinda was still a child, her mother had been for weeks at a stretch what people called "not quite right in her mind," and she had talked only in whispers because she thought the country was listening. As long as the spell lasted, it had seemed to the child that the farm-house crouched like a beaten hound, in the midst of the brown fields, beneath the menacing solitude.

Since then she had never lost the feeling that the land contained a terrible force, whether for good or evil she could not tell, and there were hours when the loneliness seemed to rise in a crested wave and surge over her. As she took the basket from her daughter, Mrs. Oakley's features softened slightly, but she did not smile. Only very young things, babies, puppies, chickens just out of the shell, made her smile, and then her smile was more plaintive than cheerful.

She had worked so hard for so many years that the habit had degenerated into a disease, and thrift had become a tyrant instead of a slave in her life. From dawn until after dark she toiled, and then lay sleepless for hours because of the jerking of her nerves.

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  4. She was, as she said of herself, "driven," and it was the tragedy of her lot that all her toil made so little impression. Though she spent every bit of her strength there was nothing to show for her struggle. Like the land, which took everything and gave back nothing, the farm had drained her vitality without altering its general aspect of decay. He was the youngest child, and after he had been nursed through a virulent attack of scarlet fever, he had become the idol of his mother, in spite of a temperamental wildness which she made the subject of constant prayer.

    There was ceaseless contention between him and his elder brother, Josiah, a silent, hardworking man of thirty, with overhanging eyebrows and a scrubby beard which he seldom trimmed. After the birth of her first child there had been a sterile period in Mrs. Oakley's life, when her mental trouble began, and Dorinda and Rufus both came while she was looking ahead, as she told herself, to a peaceful middle age unhampered by childbearing. Have you been helped, Pa? He was a big, humble, slow-witted man, who ate and drank like a horse, with loud munching noises.

    As his hair was seldom cut and he never shaved, he still kept his resemblance to the pictures of John the Baptist in the family Bible. In place of his youthful comeliness, however, he wore now an air of having just emerged from the wilderness. From beneath his shaggy hair his large brown eyes were bright and wistful with the melancholy that lurks in the eyes of cripples or of suffering animals. He was a dumb plodding creature who had as little share in the family life as had the horses, Dan and Beersheba; but, like the horses, he was always patient and willing to do whatever was required of him.

    There were times when Dorinda asked herself if indeed he had any personal life apart from the seasons and the crops. Though he was not yet sixty-five, his features, browned and reddened and seamed by sun and wind, appeared as old as a rock embedded in earth. All his life he had been a slave to the land, harnessed to the elemental forces, struggling inarticulately against the blight of poverty and the barrenness of the soil. Yet Dorinda had never heard him rebel. His resignation was the earth's passive acceptance of sun or rain.

    When his crop failed, or his tobacco was destroyed by frost, he would drive his plough into the field and begin all over again! The first time Dorinda remembered his taking her' on his knee, the strong smell of his blue jeans overalls had frightened her to tears, and she had struggled and screamed. But whenever she thought of him now, his hands, gnarled, twisted, and earth-stained like the vigorous roots of a tree, and that penetrating briny smell, were the first things she remembered. His image was embalmed in that stale odour of the farm as in a preserving fluid.

    Joshua's hand, which no amount of scrubbing could free front stain, closed with a heavy grip on the handle of his knife. A deep tenderness pervaded Dorinda's heart, and this tenderness was but a single wave of the emotion that flooded her being. Pa," she thought, "he has never known anything but work. Aloud, she said, "I've saved up enough money to buy a cow in May. After I help you with the taxed and the interest on the mortgage, I'll still have enough left for the cow. Rose Emily says old Doctor Greylock will sell us his Blossom! That was his way, to make an objection to everything.

    He had, as his mother sometimes said of him, a good character but a mean disposition. At twenty he had married a pretty, light woman, who died with her first child; and now, after a widowerhood of ten years, he was falling in love with Elvira Snead, a silly young thing, the daughter of thriftless Adam Snead, a man with scarcely a shirt to his back or an acre to his name. Though Josiah was hardworking, painstaking, and frugal, he preferred comeliness to character in a woman. If it had been Rufus, Dorinda would have found an infatuation for Elvira easier to understand'.

    Nobody expected Rufus to be anything but wild, and it was natural for young men to seek pleasures. The boy was different from his father and his elder brother, who required as little as cattle; and yet there was nothing for him to do in the long winter evenings, except sort potatoes or work over his hare-traps. The neighbours were all too far away, and the horses too tired after the day's work to drag the buggy over the mud-strangled roads.

    Dorinda could browse happily among the yellowed pages in old Abernethy's library, returning again and again to the Waverley Novels, or the exciting Lives of the Missionaries; but Rufus cared nothing for books and had inherited his mother's dread of the silence. He was a high-spirited boy, and he liked pleasure; yet every evening after supper he would tinker with a farm implement or some new kind of trap until he was sleepy enough for bed.

    Then he would march upstairs to the fireless room under the eaves, where the only warmth came up the chimney from the kitchen beneath. That was all the life Rufus had ever had, though he looked exactly, Dorinda thought, like Thaddeus of Warsaw or one of the Scottish Chiefs. In the daytime the kitchen was a cheerful room, bright with sunshine which fell through the mammoth scuppernong grapevine on the back porch.

    Then the battered pots and pans grew bright again, the old wood stove gave out a pleasant song; and the blossomless geraniums, in wooden boxes, decorated the window-sill. Much of her mother's life was spent in this room, and as a child Dorinda had played here happily with her corn-cob or hickory-nut dolls.

    Poor as they were, there was never a speck of dust anywhere. Oakley looked down on the "poor white" class, though she had married into it; and her recoil from her husband's inefficiency was in the direction of a scrupulous neatness. She knew that she had thrown herself away, in youth, on a handsome face; yet she was just enough to admit that her marriage, as marriages go, had not been unhappy. Her unhappiness, terrible as it had been, went deeper than any human relation, for she was still fond of Joshua with the maternal part of her nature while she despised him with her intelligence.

    He had made her a good husband; it was not his fault that he could never get on; everything from the start had been against him; and he had always done the best that he could. She realized this clearly; but all the romance in her life, after the death of the young missionary in the Congo, had turned toward her religion. She could have lived without Joshua; she could have lived even without Rufus, who was the apple of her eye; but without her religion, as she had once confessed to Dorinda, she would have been "lost.

    There were winter nights, after the days of whispering in the past, when the child Dorinda, startled by the flare of a lantern out in the darkness, had seen her mother flitting barefooted over the frozen ground. Shivering with cold and terror, the little girl had crept down to rouse her fathers who had thrown some garments over his nightshirt, and picking up the big raccoon-skin coat, had rushed out in pursuit of his demented wife. A little later Josiah had followed, and then Dorinda; and Rufus had brought sticks and paper from the kitchen and started a fire, with shaking hands, in their mother's fireplace.

    Whey, at last the two men had led Mrs. Oakley into the house, she had, appeared so bewildered and benumbed that she seemed scarcely, to know where she had been. Once Dorinda had overheard Joshua whisper hoarsely to Josiah, "If I hadn't come up with her in the nick of time, she would have done it"; but what the thing was they, whispered about the child did not understand till long afterwards All she knew at the time was that her mother's "missionary" dream's had come back again; a dream of blue skies and golden sands, of palm trees on a river's bank, and of black babies thrown to crocodiles.

    Oakley had murmured over and over, while she stared straight before her, with a prophetic gleam in her wide eyes, as if she were seeing unearthly visions. They ate to-night, after Joshua had asked grace, in a heavy silence, which was broken only by the gurgling sounds Joshua and Josiah made over their coffee-cups. Oakley, who was decently if not delicately bred, had become inured to the depressing tablet manners of her husband and her elder son.

    After the first disillusionment of her marriage, she had confined her efforts at improvement to the two younger children. They had both, she felt with secret satisfaction, sprung from the finer strain of the Abernethys; it was as if they had inherited from her that rarer intellectual medium in which her forbears had attained their spiritual being. There were hours when it seemed to her that the gulf between the dominant Scotch-Irish stock of the Valley and the mongrel breed of "poor white" which produced Joshua was as wide as the abyss between alien races. Then the image of Joshua as she had first known him would appear to her, and she would think, in the terms of theology which were natural to her mind, "It must have been intended, or it wouldn't have happened.

    While the others were still eating, Mrs. Oakley rose from the food she had barely tasted, and began to clear the table. The nervous affection from which she suffered made it impossible for her to sit in one spot for more than a few minutes. Her nerves jerked her up and started her on again independently of her will or even of any physical effort. Only constant movement quieted the twitching which ran like electric wires through her muscles. I'll clear off and wash up," Dorinda said. Her pity for her mother was stronger to-night than it had ever been, for it had become a part of the craving for happiness which was overflowing her soul.

    Often this starved craving had made her bitter and self-centred because of the ceaseless gnawing in her breast; but now it was wholly kind and beneficent. Oakley, with wintry calm. Oakley shook her head. It was always like that. The girl had sometimes felt that the greatest cross in her life was her mother's morbid unselfishness. Even her nagging--and she nagged at them continually--was easier to bear. Oakley said, piling dishes on the tin tray.

    Family prayers in the evening provided the solitary emotional outlet in her existence. Only then, while she read aloud one of the more belligerent Psalms, and bent her rheumatic knees to the rag carpet in her "chamber," were the frustrated instincts of her being etherealized into spiritual passion. When the boys rebelled, as they sometimes did, or Dorinda protested that she was "too busy for prayers," Mrs. Oakley contended with the earnestness of a Covenanter: "If it wasn't for the help of my religion, I could never keep going. Now, having finished their meal in silence, they gathered in the chamber, as the big bedroom was called, and waited for evening prayers.

    It was the only comfortable room in the house, except the kitchen, and the family life after working hours was lived in front of the big fireplace, in which chips, lightwood knots, and hickory logs were burned from dawn until midnight. Before the flames there was a crooked brass footman, and the big iron kettle it supported kept up an uninterrupted hissing noise. In one corner of the room stood a tall rosewood bookcase, which contained the romantic fiction Dorinda had gleaned from the heavy theological library in the parlour across the hall. Between the front windows, which looked out on a cluster of old lilac bushes, there was the huge walnut bed, with four stout posts and no curtains, and facing it between the windows, in the opposite walls, a small cabinet of lacquer-ware which her great-grandfather had brought from the East.

    In the morning and afternoon the sunlight fell in splinters over the variegated design of the rag carpet and the patchwork quilt on the bed, and picked out the yellow specks in the engravings of John Knox admonishing Mary Stuart and Martyrs for the Covenant. Oakley in her high thin voice, with her mystic gaze passing over the open Bible to the whitewashed wall where the shadows of the flames wavered. Motionless, in her broken splint-seated chair, scarcely daring to breathe, Dorinda felt as if she were floating out of the scene into some world of intenser reality. The faces about her in the shifting firelight were the faces in a dream, and a dream that was without vividness.

    She saw Joshua bending forward, his pipe fallen from his mouth, his hands clasped between his knees, and his eyes fixed in a pathetic groping stare, as if he were trying to follow the words. The look was familiar to her; she had seen it in the wistful expressions of Rambler and of Dan and Beersheba, the horses; yet it still moved her more deeply than she had ever been moved by anything except the patient look of her father's hands. On opposite sides of the fireplace, Josiah and Rufus were dozing, Josiah sucking his empty pipe as a child sucks a stick of candy, Rufus playing with the knife he had used to whittle a piece of wood.

    At the first words of the Psalm he had stopped work and closed his eyes, while a pious vacancy washed like a tide over his handsome features. Curled on the rag carpet, Rambler and Flossie watched each other with wary intentness, Rambler contemplative and tolerant, Flossie suspicious and superior. The glow and stillness of the room enclosed the group in a circle that was like the shadow of a magic lantern. The flames whispered; the kettle hummed on the brass foctman; the sound of Joshua's heavy breathing went on like a human undercurrent to the cadences of the Psalm.

    Outside, in the fields, a dog barked, and Rambler raised his long, serious head from the rug and listened. A log of wood, charred in the middle, broke in two and scattered a shower of sparks. Prayers were over. Oakley rose from her knees; Joshua prodded the ashes in his pipe; Josiah drew a twist of home-cured tobacco from his pocket, and cutting off a chew from the end of it, thrust it into his cheek, where it bulged for the rest of the evening; Rufus picked up a fishing-pole and resumed his whittling.

    Until bedtime the three men would sprawl there in the agreeable warmth between the fireplace and the lamp on the table. Nobody talked; conversation was as alien to them as music. Drugged with fatigue, they nodded in a vegetable somnolence. Even in their hours of freedom they could not escape the relentless tyranny of the soil. After putting away the Bible, Mrs. Oakley took out a dozen damask towels, with Turkey-red borders and fringed ends, from her top bureau drawer and began to look over then.

    These towels were the possession she prized most, after the furniture of her grandfather, and they were never used except when the minister or a visiting elder came to spend the night. While she spoke she began to yawn like the others. It was queer the way it kept up as soon as one of them started. Youth struggled for a time, but in the end it succumbed inevitably to the narcotic of dullness. Oakley, "and I like to have something to do with my hands. I never was one to want to lie in bed unless I was sleepy. The very minute my head touches the pillow, my eyes pop right open.

    He was out at the barn feeding the horses before day this morning. Was this life? It's different with the rest of you. Your father is out in the air all day, and you and the boys are young. She went back to the kitchen, with the towels in her hand, while Dorinda took down one of the lamps from a shelf in the back hall, removed the cracked chimney, and lighted the wick, which was too short to burn more than an hour or two.

    The evening was over. It was like every one Dorinda had known in the past. It was like every one she would know in the future unless--she caught her breath sharply--unless the miracle happened! The faint grey light crept through the dormer-window and glimmered with a diffused wanness over the small three-cornered room. Turning restlessly, Dorinda listened, half awake, to the sound of her mother moving about in the kitchen below.

    A cock in the henhouse crowed and was answered by another. The sun rose over the pine; every morning she watched die twisted black boughs, shaped like a harp, emerge from obscurity. First the vague ripple of dawn, spreading in circles as if a stone had been cast into the darkness; then a pearly glimmer in which objects borrowed exaggerated dimensions; then a blade of light cutting sharply through the pine to the old pear orchard, where the trees still blossomed profusely in spring, though they bore only small green pears out of season.

    After the edge of brightness, the round red sun would ride up into the heavens and the day would begin. It was seldom that she saw the sunrise from her window. Usually, unless she overslept herself and her mother got breakfast without waking her, the men were in the fields and the two women were attending to the chickens or cleaning the house before the branches of the big pine were gilded with light. Deep down in her being some blissful memory was struggling into consciousness. She felt that it was floating there, just beyond her reach, dim, elusive, enchantingly lovely. Almost she seized it; then it slipped from her grasp and escaped her, only to return, still veiled, a little farther off, while she groped after it.

    A new happiness. Some precious possession which she had clasped to her heart while she was falling asleep. Then suddenly the thing that she had half forgotten came drifting, through unclouded light, into her mind. The sounds in the kitchen grew louder, and the whole house was saturated with the aroma of coffee and frying bacon. Beyond these familiar scents and sounds, it seemed to her that she smelt and heard the stirring of spring in the fields and the woods, that the movement and rumour of life were sweeping past her in waves of colour, fragrance, and music. Springing out of bed, she dressed hurriedly, and decided, while she shivered at the splash of cold water, that she would clean her shoes before she went back to the store.

    The day was just breaking, and the corner where her pine dressing-table stood was so dark that she was obliged to light the lamp, which burned with a dying flicker, while she brushed and coiled her hair. Beneath the dark waving line on her forehead, where her hair grew in a widow's peak, her eyes were starry with happiness. Though she was not beautiful, she had her moments of beauty, and looking at herself in the greenish mirror, which reminded her of the water in the old mill pond, she realized that this was one of her moments. Never again would she be twenty and in love for the first time.

    The longing for lovely things, the decorative instinct of youth, became as sharp as a pang. Parting the faded curtains over a row of shelves in one corner, she took down a pasteboard box, and selected a collar of fine needlework which had belonged to Eudora Abernethy when she was a girl. For a minute Dorinda looked at it, strongly tempted. Then the character that showed in her mouth and chin asserted itself, and she shook her head. That was with the surface of her mind.

    Sparkling Eyes in the Stormy Forest (dual-language ebook Book 8) Sparkling Eyes in the Stormy Forest (dual-language ebook Book 8)
    Sparkling Eyes in the Stormy Forest (dual-language ebook Book 8) Sparkling Eyes in the Stormy Forest (dual-language ebook Book 8)
    Sparkling Eyes in the Stormy Forest (dual-language ebook Book 8) Sparkling Eyes in the Stormy Forest (dual-language ebook Book 8)
    Sparkling Eyes in the Stormy Forest (dual-language ebook Book 8) Sparkling Eyes in the Stormy Forest (dual-language ebook Book 8)
    Sparkling Eyes in the Stormy Forest (dual-language ebook Book 8) Sparkling Eyes in the Stormy Forest (dual-language ebook Book 8)
    Sparkling Eyes in the Stormy Forest (dual-language ebook Book 8) Sparkling Eyes in the Stormy Forest (dual-language ebook Book 8)
    Sparkling Eyes in the Stormy Forest (dual-language ebook Book 8) Sparkling Eyes in the Stormy Forest (dual-language ebook Book 8)
    Sparkling Eyes in the Stormy Forest (dual-language ebook Book 8) Sparkling Eyes in the Stormy Forest (dual-language ebook Book 8)

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