Tuesday 19 July 2022

The Eye of the Beholder by Margie Orford BLOG TOUR #TheEyeoftheBeholder @MargieOrford @canongatebooks @RandomTTours #BookExtract


Cora carries secrets her daughter can't know.

Freya is frightened by what her mother leaves unsaid.

Angel will only bury the past if it means putting her abusers into the ground.

One act of violence sets the three women on a collision course, each desperate to find the truth. In a nail-biting thriller set between the scorched red soil of South Africa, the pitiless snowfields of Canada and the chilly lochsides of western Scotland, each woman must contend with the spectres of male violence, sexual abuse and the choices we each make to keep our souls.

The Eye of the Beholder by Margie Orford was published by Canongate Books on 7 July 2022. As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you today. 

Extract from The Eye of the Beholder by Margie Orford

Cora. Maybe he shouted after her. Cora, a command. Cora, a plea. Maybe it was just an echo in her head, but this time Cora wasn’t listening. This time she wasn’t stopping. This time she was running. The cold air rasped in her chest as she zigzagged through the pines down to the lake with his panicked dog at her heels. She glanced towards the distant houses hunched against the winter. They were shuttered and lightless. No sanctuary there, no witnesses either. She slipped on the icy footbridge, caught hold of the wooden railing and stopped herself just before she went over. She saw where the branches, submerged in the ice, had snagged a rodent’s small corpse.

The dog whimpered – a forepaw cut deep. Cora’s wounds were hidden: the still-felt pressure of his hand, a vice on her arm, his other hand around her throat. The roar of her fury when he told her that she was delusional; she just did not see things right.

That was when she remembered that she knew how to fight, how to bring a booted heel down hard so that his hold on her loosened for the fraction of a second she needed to get through the door, lock it, get out, get away.

A series of harsh cries made her look back: crows flying up from the trees behind the cabin, but no other movement. He was not following, he couldn’t follow – not yet, at least – but she had seen what he was capable of and she was taking no chances. She scrambled to her feet and sprinted to her car hidden in the fir trees and tore the door open. She was in, but before she could shut the door, the dog leapt in after her and pressed herself to the floor. Cora did not have the strength to fight her. She did not have the time either and, looking at the injured animal, decided maybe it was for the best if she took the dog with her, so she steadied her hands enough to get the car key into the ignition. The engine caught despite the cold. The wheels spun for a sickening moment, but there was traction. She sobbed with relief when the car jolted forwards.

Snow-laden branches lashed the windshield as she drove down the narrow track. Half a mile later and she was on a back road where the snowploughs had passed through recently. It was easier to navigate. She drove with her eyes fixed on the rear-view mirror, on the road and the trees vanishing behind her, but he had not followed her. Her mind knew he couldn’t – but her thudding heart, which had a different measure of things, did not.

Cora stopped a mile short of the highway. On a clear day it was possible to see the lake where the cabin was, but the weather had closed in and nothing was visible. She got out and opened the passenger door. ‘I’ve got to leave you here, Trotsky,’ she said, her voice ragged. The dog shrank back but because she had no choice, Cora reached in and grabbed her collar. Trotsky twisted her head this way and that in an attempt to escape. Cora held firm. Desperation gave her strength and she twisted the collar until the dog choked.

She had Trotsky half out of the car when fangs sliced into her wrist, but she could not let go: she could not risk being seen with his dog, so she yanked her out and, in the moment the animal was off-balance, jumped back in the vehicle and slammed the door shut. The dog threw her head back and howled and she heard it for the accusation of betrayal that it was. Cora swallowed the lump in her throat and drove off. The dog ran alongside the car, but the distance between them grew steadily until she could no longer see her.

She could only save one of them and, part wolf, part husky, Trotsky knew better than she did how to survive in this waste- land of ice. That was what she told herself as she drove through whirling snow, hers the only vehicle on the road. Half an hour later, she saw the sign for Dizzy’s Diner & Gas, its forlorn neon flashing weakly. She turned in and pulled up behind the rest rooms. There was no sign of anyone except a lone waiter bent over his phone in the diner. He did not look up when she got out of the car. 

Margie Orford is an award-winning journalist who has been dubbed the Queen of South African Crime Fiction. 
Her Clare Hart crime novels have been translated into ten languages and are being developed into a television series. 
She was born in London and spent her formative years in Namibia and South Africa. 
A Fulbright Scholar, she was educated in South Africa and the United States, has a doctorate in creative writing from the University of East Anglia and is an honorary fellow of St Hugh’s College, Oxford. 
She is President Emerita of PEN South Africa and was the patron of Rape Crisis Cape Town. 
She now lives in London. 

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