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406 pages, Hardcover
First published September 12, 2006
“There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.”
“Books are, for me, it must be said, the most important thing; what I cannot forget is that there was a time when they were at once more banal and more essential than that. When I was a child, books were everything. And so there is in me, always, a nostalgic yearning for the lost pleasure of books. It is not a yearning that one ever expects to be fulfilled.”
"Tell me the truth."
"There was a sudden rush in my head, I felt the sick dizziness of the deep-sea diver come too fast to the surface. Aspects of my room came back into view, one by one. My bedspread, the book in my hand, the lamp still shining palely in the daylight that was beginning to creep in through the thin curtains. It was morning. I had read the night away."
There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.
P. 19: People disappear when they die. Their voices, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humour, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is kind of magic.As a ten-year-old, she discovered an old tin underneath a bed which changed her life forever. She discovered the reason why she wanted to give a voice to the deceased.
P. 9: There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner.A letter from Britain's most famous author, Vida Winter, invited her to write the author's biography.
P.5: I have nothing against people who love truth. Apart from the fact that they make dull companions. Just so long as they don't start on about storytelling and honesty the way some of them do. Naturally that annoys me. Provided they leave me alone, I won't hurt them.And now, suddenly after all these years, she wanted Margaret Lea, in particular, to write down the real truth - the one story she could never share, the story that needed to come alive for the dead to rest in peace...
P. 66: The story is not only mine; it is the story of Angelfield. Angelfield the village. Angelfield the house. And the Angelfied family itself. George and Mathilda; their children, Charlie and Isabelle; Isabelle's children, Emmeline and Adeline. Their house, their fortunes, their fears. And their ghost. One should always pay attention to ghosts...The biography turned out to be an elongated, painful confession.
How many times have I gone back to the border of memory and peered into the darkness beyond? But it is not only memories that hover on the border there. There are all sorts of phantamasgoria that inhabit that realm. The nightmares of a lonely child. Fairytales appropriated by a mind hungry for story. The fantasies of an imaginative little girl anxious to explain to herself the inexplicable. Whatever story I may have discovered on the frontier of forgetting, I do not pretend to myself that it is the truth.'Margaret Lea became more than just a biographer.
'All children mythologize their birth.'
"I'm going to tell you a story about twins" Miss Winter said that first night in her library. Words that with their unexpected echo of my own story attached me irresistibly to hers."She needed to become Sherlock Holmes to unravel the haunted history of the old mansions and its inhabitants. In the process, her own life story would entwine with that of Miss Winter's, and in one moment of vertiginous, kaleidoscopic bedazzlement, she would finally take the fragmented and the broken and mend it, tidy it up and put it in order. The chaos and clutter would be banished, doubt will be replaced with certainty, shadows with clarity, lacunae with substance. Everything was put in place before the wolf came to collect, but only because the diary of the governess, miss Hester Barrow , was discovered...
"There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work magic."