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Excerpt from The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley X
The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley
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  • First Published:
    May 2016, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2017, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
James Broderick
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About this Book

Print Excerpt

While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, 'Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.' But the Pharisees said, 'It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.'

- Matthew 9:32–34

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, 
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

- W. B. Yeats, 'The Second Coming'

1

It had certainly been a wild end to the autumn. On the Heath a gale stripped the glorious blaze of colour from Kenwood to Parliament Hill in a matter of hours, leaving several old oaks and beeches dead. Mist and silence followed and then, after a few days, there was only the smell of rotting and bonfires.

I spent so long there with my notebook one afternoon noting down all that had fallen that I missed my session with Doctor Baxter. He told me not to worry. About the appointment or the trees. Both he and Nature would recover. Things were never as bad as they seemed.

I suppose he was right in a way. We'd been let off lightly. In the north, train lines had been submerged and whole villages swamped by brown river water. There had been pictures of folk bailing out their living rooms, dead cattle floating down an A road. Then, latterly, the news about the sudden landslide on Coldbarrow, and the baby they'd found tumbled down with the old house at the foot of the cliffs.

Coldbarrow. There was a name I hadn't heard for a long time. Not for thirty years. No one I knew mentioned it any more and I'd tried very hard to forget it myself. But I suppose I always knew that what happened there wouldn't stay hidden forever, no matter how much I wanted it to.

I lay down on my bed and thought about calling Hanny, wondering if he too had seen the news and whether it meant anything to him. I'd never really asked him what he remembered about the place. But what I would say, where I would begin, I didn't know. And in any case he was a difficult man to get hold of. The church kept him so busy that he was always out ministering to the old and infirm or fulfilling his duties to one committee or another. I could hardly leave a message, not about this.

His book was on the shelf with the old paperbacks I'd been meaning to donate to the charity shop for years. I took it down and ran my finger over the embossed lettering of the title and then looked at the back cover. Hanny and Caroline in matching white shirts and the two boys, Michael and Peter, grinning and freckled, enclosed in their parents' arms. The happy family of Pastor Andrew Smith.

The book had been published almost a decade ago now and the boys had grown up—Michael was starting in the upper sixth at Cardinal Hume and Peter was in his final year at Corpus Christi—but Hanny and Caroline looked much the same then as they did now. Youthful, settled, in love.

I went to put the book back on the shelf and noticed that there were some newspaper cuttings inside the dust jacket. Hanny visiting a hospice in Guildford. A review of his book in the Evening Standard. The Guardian interview that had really thrust him into the limelight. And the clipping from an American evangelical magazine when he'd gone over to do the Southern university circuit.

The success of My Second Life with God had taken everyone by surprise, not least Hanny himself. It was one of those books that—how did they put it in the paper?—captured the imagination, summed up the zeitgeist. That kind of thing. I suppose there must have been something in it that people liked. It had bounced around the top twenty of the bestsellers list for months and made his publisher a small fortune.

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Excerpted from The Loney by Andrew Hurley. Copyright © 2016 by Andrew Hurley. Excerpted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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