A snapshot of my recent reading in quotes…
….It was 28th April. Wet, naturally, the grass percolating water as John Rebus walked to the grave of his father, dead five years to the day. He placed a wreath so that it lay, yellow and red, the colours of remembrance, against the still shining marble. He paused for a moment, trying to think of things to say, but there seemed nothing to say, nothing to think. He had been a good enough father and that was that. The old man wouldn’t have wanted him to waste his words in any case. So he stood there, hands respectfully behind his back, crows laughing on the walls around him, until the water seeping into his shoes told him that there was a warm car waiting for him at the cemetery gates.
….He drove quietly, hating to be back here in Fife, back where the old days had never been ‘the good old days,’ where ghosts rustled in the shells of empty houses and the shutters went up every evening on a handful of desultory shops, those metal shutters that gave the vandals somewhere to write their names. How Rebus hated it all, this singular lack of an environment. It stank the way it had always done: of misuse, of disuse, of the sheer wastage of life.
~ Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin
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….The second photograph is from the wedding itself. In it, the newly-weds pose in front of a glossy, cream trailer, holding hands, but standing apart. A dog is a moving blur behind them. Chrome trim winks in the sunlight, and both have their eyes slightly narrowed against the glare. Rose has had her hair done – permed, lightened and arranged into blonde flicks that frame her face. The high neck of her wedding dress hides the birthmark. She smiles nervously. Her new husband, Ivo Janko, wears a black suit; he is blade-thin with longish, slicked-back dark hair, high cheekbones and large, dark eyes. He’s very good looking, and looks as though he knows it. He does not smile – his expression appears arrogant, even hostile. He seems to be leaning away from her, his body tense, his chin lifted. Studying his face in the photograph – looking for clues – I decide that his expression is due less to arrogance than nervousness. They are both very young, after all, and are marrying a person they hardly know. Who would look at ease?
~ The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney
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….Crusade and pilgrimage strengthened linkages between northern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean. And around the time that the crusades began, trumpets resembling the one found at Billingsgate began to appear in European art. Arabic influence is shown in the decorative knobs along its length, grafted onto a straight-stemmed form of Byzantine origin. Although we cannot be certain, it seems highly probable that returning crusader fleets carried the archetype into Europe, whence it was honed and replicated by the brassworkers of Nuremberg and Paris.
….No home-grown instrument, then, the ships trumpet, but one that originated in the Holy Land. It embodies a peculiar crossover between the prosaic business of ship-signalling and the potent symbolism of the crusade. And as the only surviving example of its kind, the Billingsgate Trumpet powerfully commemorates the furthest from England a mediaeval ship would go, limited by seaworthiness, circumscribed by piety.
~ The Ship Asunder by Tom Nancollas
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….“I want to take you to Pakistan.”
….Suzie looked up. “Khalid, do you? You’ve never said that before.”
….Even as he said it, he knew it was a terrible idea.
….It just wouldn’t work. His cousins would be charming, wrapping Suzie up in clothes and jewellery and taking care of her, and whispering in his ear about her prettiness, spoiling Alia with everything she asked for. But there was something that he’d find too difficult, pulling him in two directions. It wasn’t their fault. Just the artifice, pretending again that he belonged there, when things had moved on so much. This was his life now. He had created something that couldn’t be exported.
….His mother called every week from Karachi to ask him about the family, and sometimes he put Alia on the phone. It was all kind of excruciating because of the language. The incantation of the same words, Mashallah, Khuda Hafiz, and his little girl’s blank expressions when she heard Urdu, which made him guilty for not teaching her more, and not knowing quite who this grandmother was or where the voice came from. The worst was when Alia held the phone away from her ear with a scrunched-up nose and refused to speak at all.
~ Edgware Road by Yasmin Cordery Khan
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