The End We Start From

TEWSF

Megan Hunter

First Sentence:     I am hours from giving birth, from the event I thought would never happen to me, and R has gone ups mountain.

Back of the book:

In the midst of a mysterious environmental crisis, as London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, the family are forced to leave their home in search of safety. As they move from place to place, shelter to shelter, their journey traces both fear and wonder as Z’s small fists grasp at the things he sees, as he grows and stretches, thriving and content against all the odds.

This is a story of new motherhood in a terrifying setting: a familiar world made dangerous and unstable, its people forced to become refugees. Startlingly beautiful, Megan Hunter’s The End We Start From is a gripping novel that paints an imagined future as realistic as it is frightening. And yet, though the country is falling apart around them, this family’s world – of new life and new hope – sings with love.

* * *

Click for last sentence

All That’s Left To Tell

ATLTT

Daniel  Lowe

First Sentence:     Now the sunrise.

Back of the book:

Every night, Marc Laurent, an American taken hostage in Pakistan, is bound and blindfolded. And every night, a woman he knows only as Josephine comes to visit him. At first, her questions are mercenary: who will pay for his release? But when Marc can offer no name, she asks him an even more difficult question: why didn’t he go home for his daughter’s funeral?

So begins a strange and yet comforting nightly ritual. Josephine tells Marc stories about what might have happened had Claire not been murdered. In turn, Marc begins to tell his own, in which his daughter is still alive. Soon, neither Marc nor Josephine are sure which stories are true and which are imagined, or even if it matters. And as they unfold — on a journey across America, into the past, and into a future that may never come — father and daughter start to find their way toward understanding each other once again.

Lyrical, seductive and utterly compelling, All That’s Left To Tell is a novel about second chances and the stories we tell to make sense of ourselves.

Quotes from the book:

“The blindfold left him increasingly vulnerable to memory because he couldn’t use his vision to distract himself with objects in the room.”

You know, you have those days in your life, and mostly it’s when you’re looking back, But every now and then, even at the time you’re living it, living in that minute, you say to yourself, ‘Well, I’ll just stay right here.’

“So when my father died, what happened is like you have Interstate 80 stretched out over a lifetime. But all those hours, all those weeks and months where nothing was happening, where you were living your life without even thinking about him, those spaces fall away, and the memories you do have slam into each other, one after another, and they’re moving too fast to stop.”

* * * *

Click for last sentence

At Last

at-last

Edward St Aubyn

First Sentence:     ‘Surprised to see me?’ said Nicholas Pratt, planting his walking stick on the crematorium carpet and fixing Patrick with a look of aimless defiance, a habit no longer useful but too late to change.

Back of the book:

THE FIFTH PATRICK MELROSE NOVEL

As friends, relatives and foes trickle in to pay their final respects to his mother Eleanor, Patrick Melrose finds himself questioning whether a life without parents will be the liberation he has so long imagined. Yet as the memorial service ends and the family gathers one last time, amidst the social niceties and the social horrors, the calms and the rapids, Patrick begins to sense a new current: the chance of some form of safety – at last.

 * * *

Click for last sentence

Miss Jane

miss-jane

Brad Watson

First Sentence:     You would not think someone so afflicted would or could be cheerful, not prone to melancholy or the miseries.

Back of the book:

Since his award-winning debut collection of stories, Last Days of the Dog-Men, Brad Watson’s work has been as melancholy, witty, strange, and lovely as any in America. Inspired by the true story of his own great-aunt, he explores the life of Miss Jane Chisolm, born in rural, early-twentieth-century Mississippi with a genital birth defect that would stand in the way of the central “uses” for a woman in that time and place – namely, sex and marriage.

From the country doctor who adopts Jane to the hard tactile labor of farm life, from the sensual and erotic world of nature around her to the boy who loved but was forced to leave her, the world of Miss Jane Chisolm is anything but barren. Free to satisfy only herself, she mesmerizes those around her, exerting an unearthly fascination that lives beyond her still.

Quote from the book:

He stood there until his eyes stopped leaking and dried themselves, stiffening trails down his cheeks he could feel tightening the skin. Such a mortal feeling, this small thing.

 * * *

Click for last sentence

This Census-Taker

 censustaker

China Miéville

First Sentence:     A boy ran down a hill path screaming.

Back of the book:

In a remote house on a hilltop, a lonely boy witnesses a traumatic event. He tries – and fails – to flee. Left alone with his increasingly deranged parent, he dreams of safety, of joining the other children in the town below, of escape.

When at last a stranger knocks at his door, the boy senses that his days of isolation might be over.

But by what authority does this man keep the meticulous records he carries? What is the purpose behind his questions? Is he friend? Enemy? Or something else altogether?

A novella filled with beauty, terror and strangeness, This Census-Taker by China Miéville is a poignant and riveting exploration of memory and identity.

Quotes from the book:

‘Below that there’s a mess of scrawled, rejected, reworked, written and rewritten, arranged-just-so and finally accepted lines.’

He didn’t know what if anything it was his mother got from his father’s company. They lived together and passed each other every day and spoke a little to each other when they had to without viciousness or rancour but, so far as the boy saw and so far as he ever remembered, without pleasure or interest. From his father there was always a distant desperation.

* * *

Click for last sentence