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Salad Days

Salad Days by Allie Cresswell

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“My earliest memory is of you, Arthur. We were children, running across the garden at Granny’s house. The sun on your hair made it look like copper wire. Then you stopped, and I cannoned into you. We both went headlong into the rockery. It was 1964, the summer before I started school, so I was nearly five. You would have been just three. It’s strange, isn’t it? That my first memory is of you. Or maybe it isn’t very strange at all.”

Prudence and Arthur take a nostalgic trip down memory lane to the ‘60s and ‘70s; turbulent, changeful years that contrasted with their idyllic childhood at ‘Salad Days,’ the market garden run by Prue’s extended family.

But was it idyllic? Tragedy makes uneasy waypoints in their journey of recollection, and Arthur’s overbearing father casts a dark pall. How did he inveigle himself into Prue’s close-knit family circle? What was his hold on them?

As Prue and Arthur retrace their youthful attempts to get to the facts, it’s clear that truth and memory aren’t always the same.

What of the mysteries that defy the clarity of hindsight? The uncanny auspices of eccentric Mrs Glenister, latest in the line of ‘peculiar’ Glenister wives—why did she only materialise at times of calamity? And most oddly of all, why, in all their reminiscing, does Arthur never speak a word?

Memory is a curious thing—unreliable and awkward. Shaping it into an account Prue and Arthur can both live with might take a lifetime. Or two.

Blog Tour

Publication Day, 7th June:

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10th June   

Between the Lines Book Blog

The Books Delight 

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11th June   

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12th June   

Lizanne Lloyd

13th June

B for Book Review 

14th June

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Excerpt

Eight-year-old Prudence slips away from her family during a picnic, straying into nearby woodland just as the hot and humid day erupts into a terrible thunderstorm.
 
The air in the woods was thick and gloomy, a greenish night, stirred into a frenzy by the wind that now coursed like a wild thing through the canopy and between the trunks. Distantly, I could hear branches snap and fall. I peered into the dimness. The track disappeared into a throat of darkness.


Close by, a tree moved, separated itself from the shadows of the surrounding undergrowth and stepped towards me. I gasped and started backwards. I was not afraid because I’d been conjuring fantastical entities for as long as I could remember, but I was very startled—none of my imaginary figments had ever been as close as this. The figure was cloaked from head to foot in green—a Macintosh, a cape, a tarpaulin, I couldn’t tell. It was tall, towering over me, but also thickset and sturdy, very like the tree I had believed it to be. I couldn’t tell anything about it, it’s face shaded and shielded by its covering and the light in the woods so poor. It could have been a dryad like the ones in the Narnia books and I swear to God at that point I was so hopelessly disoriented that if Aslan himself had leapt over the gate I would not have been surprised.


The thing bent down and spoke to me, but its voice was low and cracked as though unused for eons. The noise in the woods was so loud, the storm shaking the canopy.  In spite of myself I yelled, ‘What?’


And then the storm broke right overhead. A rending of skies in a thunder crack that made my teeth rattle, and a simultaneous streak of lightning, as though heaven shone through the gap the thunder had opened. For that instant, the light was blinding—the interior of the forest lit up in silver and white—before the darkness returned, blacker and more otherworldly than before. The rain came, as though a bladder in the sky had been burst open, and the sound of that added to the cacophony, pebbles of water pounding onto leaves and slapping onto the ground forming instant rivulets and runnels that ran crazily across the woodland floor. Rain plastered my hair to my head. My clothes were instantly soaked. 


The figure croaked again, but it was just impossible to make out anything it said to me. It shook its head—irritated or resigned—and a gnarled old hand reached out from its coverings and took hold of my shoulder. I found myself turned from the gate and faced down the track, into the deep dimness of the woods where there was no light and where I did not recognise a single stick or stone or tree.

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