Sometimes I get frustrated as a blogger as a book turns up that I know I’d love but I simply don’t have time to read and review. This is exactly what has happened with David Matthews’ That They Might Lovely Be. However, I do have an extract to share today as part of the launch celebrations for the book.
That They Might Lovely Be
No-one thought Bertie Simmonds could speak. So, when he is heard singing an Easter hymn, this is not so much the miracle some think as a bolt drawn back, releasing long-repressed emotions with potentially devastating consequences…
A decade later, Bertie marries Anstace, a woman old enough to be his mother, and another layer of mystery starts to peel away.
Beginning in a village in Kent and set between the two World Wars, That They Might Lovely Be stretches from the hell of Flanders, to the liberating beauty of the Breton coast, recounting a love affair which embraces the living and the dead.
An Extract from That They Might Lovely Be
Monday, 12 August 1940
All day there had been dogfights high overhead. It was mid- afternoon when the rector’s wife stepped through the French windows into the garden. Bullets spattered down through the trees, ripping the turf around her feet yet leaving her unscathed. This, the second miracle of her life, turned her wits.
In the same hour, Delia Simmonds was about to wring the neck of a young cockerel ready for the pot while her father, the retired schoolmaster, was sitting on the old oak bench, resolutely ignoring the combat above the clouds. The squawking of the doomed bird was drowned out as a stricken aeroplane came screaming down from the sky toward them. They watched as it roared above the roof of their cottage, skimming the tops of the trees before ploughing straight into the South Lodge on the other side of the wood.
They heard the crash, but neither felt compelled to hurry along the lanes to see where it had hit the ground. News would reach them soon enough. They had inhabited the fringes of village life for some years now. As an accumulation of barnacles and weed gradually renders a vessel unseaworthy, so the steady accretion of gossip and suspicion, which had attached itself to the schoolmaster and his family since the tragic events ten years before, had made his position untenable. He had bought a small parcel of land in the woodlands and had a cottage built there for himself and his daughter.
As it happened, it could not have been ten minutes before a child came running up the path to the gate.
‘You’d best come, miss, sir. Plane’s crashed into the South Lodge. They’re saying your Bertie and Mrs. Cordingley’s inside but it’s all ablaze.’
For a moment, Delia froze, the limp bird in her hand, the basket for its feathers between her feet. Then she threw back her head and laughed and laughed.
The child fled.
About David Matthews
David Matthews was born in the middle of the last century to a Quaker father and a mother who left the Church of England to become a Jehovah’s Witness. After a number of years “in the wilderness”, he found himself back in the Anglican Church, active in the local community.
David had a fulfilling career as a teacher, including eleven years heading a comprehensive school in Croydon, where he still lives with his wife and sons. His play Under the Shadow of Your Wings was professionally directed and performed in the summer of 2015, as part of Croydon’s heritage festival. He now feels he may devote a significant amount of time to transforming ideas, hatched over countless summer vacations, into novels, poems and plays. He enjoys spending time in south-west France where he is renovating a stone cottage with an idyllic view, and making a garden for it.
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