Wednesday 18 October 2017

A Small Dark Quiet by Miranda Gold @mirandagold999 @unbounders

Way back in January of this, my first book review of the year was Starlings by Miranda Gold, published by Karnac Books, and is the author's debut novel.

In my review, I said:

 "Starlings is a challenging novel. It is intense and sometimes seems almost something of a battle. It is, however, a beautifully written battle, with poetic prose that is expertly paced. Brave and poignant, I'd certainly recommend it."

Mirana's new novel with Unbound, A Small Dark Quiet is now 75% funded, It's had a wonderful early endorsement from Meike Ziervogel and other critically acclaimed writers are reading it at the moment.

Miranda says:  'A Small Dark Quiet' opens shortly before the end of the Second World War and is a story of loss, migration and the search for belonging.
Viewed through the eyes of a mother soon after one of her twins is still born and then through the eyes of the phrase she adopts from a displaced persons camp two years later, this novel explores how the need to fill the devastating void can make our sense of loss more acute. 
Revealing small acts of kindness in the most unlikely places, this novel explores what happens after that moment of crisis, how they rebuild their lives and the ways in which we find ourselves caught between the need to feel safe and the will to be free. 
As with 'Starlings', my hope is that the subject of the continued legacy of trauma, with the resonances it has in our own time, will contribute to the ways in with which readers engage with past and the way it lives on in the present.

For more information about the book, and to make a pledge, please click on the link

The deadline for the book to reach the target is looming.  I'm pleased to be able to share an exclusive extract from the book

>September 1947
The boy’s face had started to open – but it twitched with every movement Sylvie made.   

‘It’s not normal,’ Gerald said, looking up from his paper. Sylvie wrung out the milk from the cloth and took in a breath. So the boy had knocked his milk over. So what. 
‘It was an accident,’ she said, thankful the constriction in her throat kept her voice from transgressing the careful volume she tried to preserve since the boy had arrived. 
‘Funny how we keep having the same accident every morning,’ Gerald went on, flicking another page without reading it. ‘We’ll have to do something about it – and the way his eyes keep following you –’ 
‘No they don’t –’ 
‘Because that certainly isn’t normal.’ 
‘Oh for goodness sake,’ Sylvie said, dropping the cloth as her voice breached the limit she’d set. She turned round and felt the glassy black tremor catch her. ‘Go and sit with Harry,’ she said – but only his eyes moved, their sudden light tracking Sylvie’s face, hands, steps. 
‘Arthur,’ Gerald began, maintaining an even tone. ‘Arthur, look at me when I’m talking to you.’ The boy had been with them for almost three months but he still wouldn’t answer to the name he’d been given – according to Gerald he never answered to anything at all. He smacked his hands over his ears and ducked behind the sofa. 
Sylvie’s eyes flicked at Gerald, clamping his mouth over a livid What! Gerald pushed the paper aside and wrenched Arthur upright. This was not the way for
a proper little Englishman to behave. The rigid body looked tiny in Gerald’s grip and it was a moment before it jerked like a caught fish. 
‘Please Gerald,’ Sylvie sent her whisper through hesitant lips, saving what quiet she could. 
The boy seemed to hear gunshots going off in his head at the slightest sound, shrivelling him just as Sylvie felt sure he was at last becoming life-size. Gerald had been saying he had to wonder if the boy they’d taken in wasn’t the runt of an abandoned litter, couldn’t tell if it would yelp or flee. 
Runt or not, he was Arthur – or would be – Sylvie couldn’t look at the eyes flashing out of the crushed bundle she took out of Gerald’s hands into her own. They weren’t the boy’s eyes, they were the eyes of his dead mother: she looked out of them, asking how Sylvie could have stolen her child – she hadn’t – the boy’s mother had to understand – it was Sylvie’s child who had been stolen – but for a twig-baby and a scattering of buds, she hadn’t even been able to touch his death. 
Arthur, Sylvie mouthed. 
So small, so dark, so quiet. But there was the defiant pulse of survival in that quietness, a vigilance that had held its breath. 
Twice hidden – was that what she had been told? Told or imagined? The voice that would have spoken to her had faded, perhaps no one had spoken at all – at least no more than to explain the child would be sent on what amounted to a ‘sale or return’ basis. Always fresh horror on the wireless and in the paper, muddled too soon with her Thursday nightmare: a twig baby, the token gesture of buds; buds white bled red by all the mind had to keep finding new ways to shield itself from. 
No one could confirm what little information she’d been given about the child she was learning to hold in her arms: mother presumed shot…nationality: doubtful… or was it uncertain, she’d slowly erased the those few
details along with the name printed on the document, inserting Arthur in its place. 
The one voice that had stayed clear was one on the home service, so clear still – she was holding Harry and she’d turned it on just to hear something beyond them and their tiny airless world – it was a soldier’s, his accent northern, yes, and his voice was barely holding, saying how he’d uncovered the blackened face of a baby and a woman had begged him for milk and he’d given her milk and she’d run, staggered, fallen. 
Sylvie folded the boy in towards her, taking in the warmth she meant to give. Mother presumed shot…Sylvie watched the woman who would never hold her child, but there was no face – only two blind voids puncturing a mask of skin fitted to a skull. Her own Arthur’s eyes were the only ones to flash – seeing Sylvie holding this strange small darkness, seeing himself replaced. Mrs Cohen would never do that. She would go on waiting for the post that would never come. 
‘Well now, who’s this smart young man?’ Mrs Cohen had asked, coming to the end of her lawn as Sylvie came back with the boys from their first Thursday at the park. 
They hadn’t really spoken these past couple of years, not since London lit up and Sylvie’s world went dark. Mrs Cohen wouldn’t let her world go dark though. Sylvie had asked Arthur to tell the nice lady his name but he dropped to the ground and tied his arms round her legs. Harry shouted his name across. 
Mrs Cohen laughed, ‘Well how do you do Mr Harry?’ 
‘Sorry,’ Sylvie had said, ‘Arthur’s a bit of a shy one.’ It took a moment for Mrs Cohen to connect the name with the boy. 
Mrs Cohen came towards them but stopped at the curb, ‘I think that’s a marvellous name!’ she said. Her voice was too loud, her intonation too buoyant. ‘I think that’s just…as it should be. Do come in for a little something.’ 
‘Thank you but we can’t stop,’ Sylvie had said, prizing Arthur from her leg so she could get Harry before he trundled to Mrs Cohen’s gate. 
Harry shouted his name again. 
‘Goodbye for now Mr Harry.’
Mrs Cohen stepped back and went on waiting.

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