Excerpt from Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Black Rabbit Hall

by Eve Chase

Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase X
Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2016, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2017, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
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Print Excerpt

AMBER
Last day of the summer holidays, 1969, Cornwall

I feel safe on the cliff ledge, safer than in the  house, anyway. Afew feet  from  the  coast  path, it's a twenty-minute scramble  from  the edge of the estate, far enough  from  Black Rabbit Hall's watching win­ dows, a secret  place. I hover on the cliff above it for a moment or two, wind snapping my dress against my legs, soles of my feet tingling, then lower myself carefully,  gripping the clumps of grass, sea roaring in my ears.   (Best  not  to  look  down.) One small  heart-stop drop and  I'm perching right  on the edge of sky. Jump too wide, it's all over. I wouldn't do it. But it occurs to me that I like the fact I could. That I have some control over my destiny today. 

Pressed  against  the  cliff wall,  I finally catch  my breath. So much frantic searching: woods,  rooms, endless  stairs.  Heels  rubbed raw in too-small tennis shoes.  And   I  still  haven't  found them. Where are they? Shading my eyes from  the sky dazzle  with  my hand, I scan the bottle-green cliff  tops  on the  other side of the  cove. Deserted. Only cattle in the fields. I inch  down then, spine  against the  rock, and  hitch  up  my dress, brazenly,  so that  air tunnels through my bare bent legs. 

Still  at last,  I can't  outrun the  events  of the  day any longer.  Even the  sound  of the  waves on  the  rocks  makes  my slapped cheek  sting afresh.  I blink and  there  is the house, silhouetted on the inside  of my eyelids. So I try to keep my eyes open and let my mind loose in the vast pink sky, where the sun  and moon  hang like a question and an answer.  Iforget  that  Iam  meant  to  be searching. That minutes move faster  than clouds at dusk. I think only of my own escape. I don't know  how long I sit there, my thoughts pierced  by a huge black bird diving  over the  cliff, so close its talons might  catch  in  my hair. Iinstinctively duck  in its wing draft, nose meeting the cool skin of my knees.  And  when  I look up my gaze is no longer  on the sky but on flotsam bob bing on the high tide swell below.

No, not flotsam. Something more alive. A dolphin? Or those  jelly­ fish that  have been washing up in our cove all week, like a lost cargo of gray glass bowls? Maybe. I lean forward, dipping my face over the edge to get a better view, hair  blowing  wildly, heart  beating a little  faster, starting to sense something terrible shifting just below the shimmer­ ing blue surface, not quite seeing it. Not yet.
 
 
Lorna
More than three decades later
 
 
   It is one  of those  journeys.  The  closer  they get to their destination, the  harder it is to imagine that  they'll ever actually arrive. There is always another bend  in  the  road,  a judder  to  the  dead  end of a farm track.  And  it is getting late, too late. Warm summer rain is drumming on the roof of the car.

"I say we cut our losses and  head back to the  Band B." Jon cranes over  the  steering wheel  to get  a better view  of the  road  liquefying behind the  windscreen. "Grab a pint  and  plan a wedding somewhere within the M25.  What do you reckon?"

Lorna draws a house with  her fingertip in the condensation on the window.  Roof. Chimney Squiggle of smoke. "Don't think so, darling."

Excerpted from Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase. Copyright © 2016 by Eve Chase. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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