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Excerpt from The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Bone Clocks

A Novel

by David Mitchell

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell X
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2014, 640 pages

    Paperback:
    Jun 2015, 656 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte
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Print Excerpt


Shit. "After leaving Stella's, I went for a walk."

"And where did your walk take you to?"

I sharpen each word. "Along the river, all right?"

"Upstream or downstream, was it, this little walk?"

I let a silence go by. "What diff'rence does it make?"

There're some cartoon explosions on the telly. Mam tells my sister, "Turn that thing off and shut the door behind you, Sharon."

"That's not fair! Holly's the one getting told off."

"Now, Sharon. And you too, Jacko, I want—" But Jacko's already vanished. When Sharon's left, Mam takes up the attack again: "All alone, were you, on your 'walk'?"

Why this nasty feeling she's setting me up? "Yeah."

"How far d'you get on your 'walk,' then, all alone?"

"What—you want miles or kilometers?"

"Well, perhaps your little walk took you up Peacock Street, to a certain someone called Vincent Costello?" The kitchen sort of swirls, and through the window, on the Essex shore of the river, a tiny stick-man's lifting his bike off the ferry. "Lost for words all of a sudden? Let me jog your memory: ten o'clock last night, closing the blinds, front window, wearing a T-shirt and not a lot else."

Yes, I did go downstairs to get Vinny a lager. Yes, I did lower the blind in the front room. Yes, someone did walk by. Relax, I'd told myself. What's the chances of one stranger recognizing me? Mam's expecting me to crumple, but I don't. "You're wasted as a barmaid, Mam. You ought to be handling supergrasses for MI5."

Mam gives me the Kath Sykes Filthy Glare. "How old is he?"

Now I fold my arms. "None of your business."

Mam's eyes go slitty. "Twenty-four, apparently."

"If you already know, why're you asking?"

"Because a twenty-four-year-old man interfering with a fifteen-year-old schoolgirl is illegal. He could go to prison."

"I'll be sixteen in September, and I reckon the Kent police have bigger fish to fry. I'm old enough to make up my own mind about my relationships."        

Mam lights one of her Marlboro Reds. I'd kill for one. "When I tell your father, he'll flay this Costello fella alive."

Sure, Dad has to persuade piss-artists off the premises from time to time, all landlords do, but he's not the flaying-anyone-alive type. "Brendan was fifteen when he was going out with Mandy Fry, and if you think they were just holding hands on the swings, they weren't. Don't recall him getting the 'You could go to prison' treatment."

She spells it out like I'm a moron: "It's—different—for—boys."

I do an I-do-not-believe-what-I'm-hearing snort.

"I'm telling you now, Holly, you'll be seeing this ... car salesman again over my dead body."

"Actually, Mam, I'll bloody see who I bloody well want!"

"New rules." Mam stubs out her fag. "I'm taking you to school and fetching you back in the van. You don't set foot outside unless it's with me, your father, Brendan, or Ruth. If I glimpse this cradle snatcher anywhere near here, I'll be on the blower to the police to press charges—yes, I will, so help me God. And—and—I'll call his employer and let them know that he's seducing underage schoolgirls."

Big fat seconds ooze by while all of this sinks in.

My tear ducts start twitching but there's no way I'm giving Mrs. Hitler the pleasure. "This isn't Saudi Arabia! You can't lock me up!"

"Live under our roof, you obey our rules. When I was your age—"

"Yeah yeah yeah, you had twenty brothers and thirty sisters and forty grandparents and fifty acres of spuds to dig 'cause that was how life was in Auld feckin' Oireland but this is England, Mam, England! And it's the 1980s and if life was so feckin' glorious in that West Cork bog why did you feckin' bother even coming to—"

Excerpted from The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. Copyright © 2014 by David Mitchell. Excerpted by permission of Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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