Excerpt from The Advocate by Bill A. Mesce Jr., Steven G. Szilagyi, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Advocate

A Novel of World War II

by Bill A. Mesce Jr., Steven G. Szilagyi

The Advocate by Bill A. Mesce Jr., Steven G. Szilagyi X
The Advocate by Bill A. Mesce Jr., Steven G. Szilagyi
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2000, 306 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2001, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

THE OLD MAN'S RITUAL WAS UNCHANGING. Each morning he brewed his tea from a tin of faded leaves and took a biscuit, fresh-cooked the night before but now crusty, from the bun warmer on the stove. He sat hunched over his tea and biscuit, at the scuffed table he'd built himself back in the days when the lumber he'd cut had seemed as light and limber in his hands as child's clay.

The mutt sat eager and panting at his feet in his own morning canon, envious eyes glued to the food in the old man's hand.

When there was but one bite left to the biscuit, the old man paused to study the morsel reflectively. This was the dog's cue to stand, wagging his tail frantically, bright eyes locked on the treat. The old man looked from the dog to the biscuit and back to the dog, as if weighing some great decision. Then, he leaned over, he and his chair creaking together, and held the biscuit over the dog's head.

The old man raised one finger, and the dog, knowing his part well, forced himself to sit and be still. They held this frieze until the old man felt the animal had earned his reward. "Oop wi' ye," the old man commanded, and the dog launched himself onto his hind legs, balancing in a waltzing step until the man dropped the piece of biscuit into the widespread jaws.

When the biscuit was gone, the dog looked up at the old man, tail wagging, and smiled with a mouth full of yellow teeth.

"You are the spoil'dest beast!" the old man said, and smiled back with teeth just as yellow. He ruffled the dog's limp ears, then massaged the top of the animal's head with his horny knuckles.

The old man finished his tea and brushed the crumbs from the table. He left the chipped teacup where it sat. By the time the woman awoke, the leaves would be dry and could be returned to their tin.

He wiped his hands on his ragged jersey and poked his head through the curtained doorway of the bedroom. The cross mounted on the far wall stood guard over the woman snuggled in the center of the down-filled bed. It looked like a shadow in the gray light from the window facing the Channel.

The stone walls of the cottage were cool, gathering in the moisture of the clammy morning. A breeze off the sea fluttered the thin curtains.

While the dog watched patiently from the doorway, the old man tiptoed clumsily to the window. He tried to close it, but the sash was swollen with the damp and it resisted and groaned. He stopped, not wanting to wake the woman, and pulled the curtains closed. He reached for a hand-made quilt atop the neat pile of bedclothes at the foot of the bed and gently drew it across her shoulders.

He cut some cheese from the brick in the larder, took another biscuit from the warmer, and wrapped both in a damp cloth before tucking them into his haversack along with a small jug of water. He took his crook from where it rested against the wall, and his cap from the hook by the door. He was halfway out the door before he remembered his binoculars on the wireless table.

Try as she might with her hand-tatted doilies, vases of marigolds, the menagerie of ceramic animals, the woman had been unable to soften the bleak presumptuousness of the transmitter, or the grim black ranks of aircraft silhouettes on the recognition chart tacked to the wall, lined up like cemetery crosses. He slung the glasses round his neck, blew out the lantern hanging over the table, and went outside.

The dog spurted past him in the doorway, trotting to the edge of the cliffs where he paced back and forth near the steep drop. He left his urinary mark of proprietorship on the knots of weeds and shrubs growing twisted in the Channel winds. The gulls circling off the chalk bluffs ignored his perfunctory barks and continued with their breakfast, dropping mussels on the boulders strewn along the pebble beach, then diving to pick at the meat amid the shattered shells. Bored with the dawn and the birds and the surf, the dog trotted off to find the old man by the chicken coop behind the cottage.

  • 1
  • 2

Excerpted from The Advocate by Bill A. Mesce Jr. and Steven G. Szilagyi Copyright© 2000 by Bill A. Mesce Jr. and Steven G. Szilagyi. Excerpted by permission of Bantam, 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.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: La Belle Sauvage
    La Belle Sauvage
    by Philip Pullman
    Voted 2017 Best Young Adult Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect ...
  • Book Jacket: Killers of the Flower Moon
    Killers of the Flower Moon
    by David Grann
    Voted 2017 Best Nonfiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    The long, sorrowful list of injustices done ...
  • Book Jacket: The Dry
    The Dry
    by Jane Harper
    Voted 2017 Best Debut Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    After receiving a letter from his childhood...
  • Book Jacket: Little Fires Everywhere
    Little Fires Everywhere
    by Celeste Ng
    Voted 2017 Best Fiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    Small towns, big drama. Acclaimed author ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

At once a love story, a history lesson and a beautifully written tale of forgiveness.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Story of Arthur Truluv
    by Elizabeth Berg

    An emotionally powerful novel from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Autumn

Autumn by Ali Smith

One of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year, and a Man Booker Prize Finalist

Enter

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay: $400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.