Literary, historical fiction
Approx. 158,000 words
Notable lines and passages
Out of the gravel there are peonies growing. They come up through the loose grey pebbles, their buds testing the air like snail's eyes, then swelling and opening, huge dark-red flowers all shining and glossy like satin. Then they burst and fall to the ground.
Murderess is a strong word to have attached to you. It has a smell to it, that word - musky and oppressive, like dead flowers in a vase. Sometimes at night I whisper it over to myself: Murderess, Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt across the floor.
I am afraid he was very much indulged, not least by himself. For if the world treats you well, Sir, you come to believe you are deserving of it.
The road to death is a lonely highway, and longer than it appears, even when it leads straight down from the scaffold, by way of a rope; and it's a dark road, with never any moon shining on it, to light your way.
I am certain that a Sewing Machine would relieve as much human suffering as a hundred Lunatic Asylums, and possibly a good deal more.
"Because you may think a bed is a peaceful thing, Sir, and to you it may mean rest and comfort and a good night's sleep. But it isn't so for everyone; and there are many dangerous things that may take place in a bed."
...reflecting that only a benevolent God, who had our good at heart, would have created so much beauty, and that whatever burdens were laid upon me were surely trials, to test my strength and faith, as with early Christians, and Job and the martyrs. But as I have said, thoughts about God often make me drowsy, and I fell asleep.
When you're in the middle of a story it isn't a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood; like a house in a whirlwind, or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard powerless to stop it. It's only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all. When you are telling it, to yourself or to someone else.
And so we will all be together.