– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Running Behind Time’ blogtour, organized by Random Things Tours.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
Jan Turk Petrie is a writer based in the Cotswolds area of England (UK). She is the author of seven published novels.
The Eldísvík Trilogy – a fast paced future-world Nordic thriller series set in 2068 in a fictional Scandinavian city state. Vol 1 – ‘Until The Ice Cracks’ – published July 2018; Vol 2 – ‘No God for a Warrior’ – published November 2018 & Vol 3 – ‘Within Each Other’s Shadow’ – published April 2019. An ebook boxset of ‘The Eldísvík Trilogy’ is widely available.
Jan has also written 4 very different stand-alone novels.
‘Too Many Heroes’ – a post-war thriller set mainly in the East End of London – published August 2019.
‘Towards the Vanishing Point’ – is a period literary domestic drama published in January 2020. It’s the story of an enduring friendship between two women and the sinister man who marries one of them.
‘The Truth in a Lie’ – is Jan’s first contemporary novel, published in June 2020. A story of love, loyalty, betrayal and the damage done by untold secrets
Jan’s latest novel – ‘Running Behind Time’ – is a time-slip novel published in March 2021. There’s a wrinkle in time on the 15:15 train from Paddington to Cheltenham Spa…
A former English teacher with an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Gloucestershire, Jan has also written numerous, prize-winning short stories.
There’s a wrinkle in time on the 15:15 train from Paddington to Cheltenham Spa
It’s the Summer of 1982, and Beth Sawyer is thrilled to have landed the title role in a play. It may only be in a fringe theatre in Shepherd’s Bush, but it’s the start she’s always dreamed of.
It’s the Summer of 2020, amid the global pandemic, and Tom Brookes is furloughed. Unable to face lockdown in a tiny city flat, he moves back to his mother’s cottage in the sleepy Cotswold village of Stoatsfield-under-Ridge.
Neither of them expects an everyday train journey to throw their normal lives so spectacularly off-course.
This is the story of an extraordinary encounter between two people who should never have met.
East Sussex, England
The sky is darkening with unnatural speed; with it comes a silence she finds disquieting. Ominous. Gulls that had been reeling and squawking off the cliffs have mysteriously disappeared. Only moments ago, the soaring song of larks had accompanied them to the top of the headland; now the birds have all gone to ground.
Other people – perhaps twenty, maybe as many as twenty-five – have been drawn to this same commanding spot as if by enchantment or a shared instinct carried in some ancient race memory. On the way up, she’d caught snatches of excited conversation – a carnival spirit; now there’s only whispering.
It’s almost upon them. A collective hush descends on the small crowd. Faces turn upwards to wait for the spectacle about to take place.
To her left, the silvery streak on the surface of the sea dims and then goes out. Where there had been summer warmth the air is chilly; the fine hairs on her arms stand up in response.
‘This is it,’ Kyle says pulling on her arm until she sits down next to him. The dry grass feels rough against her bare legs. She can smell all the baked-hard sheep poo they’re sitting amongst.
From his rucksack Kyle pulls out his binoculars and the piece of white card he’d rescued from the bin. He’s already explained to her how this will work, how you only need to point one of the lenses at the eclipse and an image will be projected straight through the eyepiece onto the cardboard. The other lens is capped off – it isn’t allowed to watch.
On the train down, he’d read a newspaper while she listened to the Planet Suite on her Walkman – not her usual choice of music but perfect to set the mood. She’d picked up the arts supplement he discarded and read a light-hearted feature describing some of the myths that had grown up as a way of explaining an eclipse. A traditional Norse tale put the blame on wolves eating the sun. In Ancient China it was dragons. Native Americans believed a bear had taken a great bite out of it. The Ancient Greeks took the whole thing more seriously; to them it was a sign the gods were angry and foretold coming disasters and destruction. It doesn’t surprise her; now would be the perfect moment for someone in long robes to stand on top of one of these mounds, raise a wooden staff and spout some dire prophecy.
Kyle is staring down at the image on the card. Seen his way, the coming partial eclipse resembles a diagram in a textbook. He’s set the whole thing up in between them so they can watch together. She notices the small tomato stain in one corner from their takeaway pizza.
In her head she tells him, ‘You might as well be watching it on the telly.’ She’s tempted to say it out loud but that would only spoil the moment for him.
‘Remember, don’t look at it directly.’ This was ostensibly to her, but he’d raised his voice so that it would carry to any foolish person around them who might be about to do such a thing. ‘Just one look and you could go blind,’ he adds for good measure.
The darkness intensifies until it’s impossible to make out the contours of the land or the line where it meets the sky. The colours of the day have all but drained away like they’re in a black and white movie. Under her breath, Beth quotes from King Lear: These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us.
Some people are gazing skywards, wearing special glasses that look far too cheap to ward off the destructive powers of two heavenly bodies set on what, from this angle, appears to be a certain collision.
‘Beth,’ he says, interrupting her train of thought. ‘I think we’re approaching maximum. Look then, or you’ll miss it.’ His sharp elbow digs into her ribs to make his point.
To please him, she glances down at the facsimile he’s created – the scaled down version of this momentous event he appears to be content with. His way is not hers; it never was.
Drawn back to the heavens but not quite trusting herself, she shuts her eyes and lets the moment take her. Such an extraordinary occurrence – it has to signify something.
By the gradual brightening of the shades of red inside her closed lids, she can tell the deepest darkness has passed. How strange this slow process of coming back to herself – to the promise of warmth on her skin. She opens her eyes, to watch the old world being reborn. Monochrome is being overlaid with colour. The spell broken, birds wake and remember their songs. A distant lamb cries out for its mother.
Kyle caps the other lens of the binoculars; roughly folding the piece of card in half, he stuffs both into his rucksack. Standing up, he says, ‘We should head off, beat the crush at the station.’
Now that the everyday world has been restored, the colours seem so bright. Beth wants to linger here, to lie back and find shapes in clouds; follow the progress of the boat that’s just a speck on the horizon as it moves across the newly sparkling sea.
For now, she complies, brushing the grass from her legs before she follows him down the hill towards the point where the narrow path splits and goes off in different directions.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds