Excerpt from Wish You Were Here by Graham Swift, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Wish You Were Here

by Graham Swift

Wish You Were Here
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2012, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2013, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jennifer Dawson Oakes

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Print Excerpt


Which is why he’s up here, at this rain-lashed window, from where he has the best view of the narrow, twisting road, Beacon Hill, which has no other purpose these days than to lead to this cottage. So he’ll be alerted. So he’ll be able to see, just a little sooner than from downstairs, the dark-blue roof, above the high bank, then the nose of the Cherokee as it takes the first, tight, ascending bend, past the old chapel. The Cherokee that’s done so much hard journeying in these last three days.

The road below him, running with water, seems to slither.

Of course, she might not return at all. Another option, and one she might be seriously contemplating. Though where the hell else does she have to go to?

It’s all gone mad, Jack thinks, but part of him has never felt saner. Rain blurs the window, but he looks through it at the rows of buffeted caravans in the middle distance to the right, beyond the spur of land that slopes down beneath him to the low mass of the Head. All empty now, of course, for the winter.

“Well, Jack, at least this has happened in the off season.”

Ellie’s words, and just for a shameful instant it had been his own secret flicker of a thought as well.


He looks at the caravans and even now feels their tug, like the tug of the wind on their own thin, juddering frames. Thirty-two trembling units. To the left, the locked site office, the laundrette, the empty shop—grille down, window boarded. The gated entrance-way off the Sands End road, the sign above it swinging.

Even now, especially now, he feels the tug. The Lookout Caravan Park, named after this cottage (or two knocked into one), in turn named after its former use. He feels, himself now, like some desperate coastguard. Ellie had said they should change the name from the Sands. He’d said they should keep it, for the good will and the continuity. And so they had, for a year. But Ellie was all for them making their own mark and wiping out what was past. There must be no end of caravan sites called The Sands, she’d said, but the Lookout would stand out.

It could work two ways, he’d said, “Lookout”—attempting another of those solemn-faced jokes of the kind his father once made.

Ellie had shrugged. So, didn’t he like the name of the cottage? It wasn’t the name they’d given it, after all. Lookout Cottage (usually known as just “The Lookout”). They could always change the name of the cottage. Ellie was all for change. She was his wife now. She’d laughed—she’d changed her name to Luxton.

But they hadn’t. Perhaps they should have done. And before the new season began, for the sake of uniformity but also novelty, and because Ellie thought it sounded better than the Sands, the site had become, on the letterhead and the brochure and on the sign over the gate, as well as in plain fact, the Lookout Park.

And it was lookout time now all right.

Excerpted from Wish You Were Here by Graham Swift. Copyright © 2012 by Graham Swift. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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