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When We Were Romans: A Novelby Matthew Kneale
Synopses & Reviews
One day scientists found something strange out in space. This thing was pulling millions of galaxies towards it, one of them is the Milky Way which is ours, but the scientists couldn't see the thing because it was hidden behind lots of dust. They thought this thing must be huge to pull all these galaxies towards it, and we are getting pulled towards it really fast, it is at millions of miles per hour, but it could be anything, nobody knows, it is a mystery. They thought this is strange, this is scary” and then they said “I know, let's call the thing the Great Attractor.
The great Attractor is pulling us right now. I think it is probably a huge black hole, because black holes eat everything, they even eat light so you can't ever see them, they look just like a piece of really dark night. One day I bet there will be a big disaster, we will go nearer and nearer and then suddenly we will get pulled right in. It will be like a big hand gets us so we will vanish, because nothing can get out of a black hole you see, we will be stuck there for ever. It is strange to think that every day, every minute we are all being pulled towards the Great Attractor but hardly anybody knows. People go about their ordinary every day lives, they have toast for breakfast and go to school, they watch their favorite programs on the telly and they never even guess.
We were coming back from the supermarket, we went to a further away one where we never went before so it would be all right, and it was an adventure mum said, we must be really quick, we must be like birds diving down and getting some food and flying away with it in their mouths. It was fun, actually, we got our cart and we almost ran, we just grabbed all the tins and packets and milk and tinfoil etc etc. Then Jemima saw some sweets in a little purple tin and she said oh I want them, I need them, please mum. Mum said “don't be silly now, Lamikin” which is what she calls Jemima sometimes “anyway those aren't real sweets their cough sweets, their bad for you. But Jemima didn’t listen, she never does, and she started crying like a big crybaby, she said but I need them, I need that purple tin.
She was still saying it when we were coming back in the car and suddenly we were almost home. We went past Mrs Potters house and the droopy trees which look funny like hair and I thought uhoh I thought “now there will be trouble” but I didn't say anything of course, because we couldn’t ever say anything in front of Jemima, because she was too young to understand. But then there was a surprise, because it was fine after all. Jemima was terrible just like I expected, when mum stopped the car she said I'm staying here, I want to go back to the supermarket but mum was ready, she said if you come with me then I'll give you a nice treat” and it worked. Jemima went quiet and said “all right.
Then we were so fast. Mum got Jemima out of her car seat and we all got all the plastic bags out of the trunk, I carried lots, even though they were really heavy, we went to the door, we were almost running, and Mum had her key all ready. That was when I looked round, I didn't really want to but I couldn’t help it, I just had to. I looked at the fence and the bushes. But it was all all right, there wasn't anybody at all. Then we were inside, mum shut
When We Were Romans is a haunting psychological novel and another masterful work from the author of the prize-winning English Passengers.Nine-year-old Lawrence isthe man of his family. He watches over his mother and his willful little sister Jemima. He is the one who keeps order, especially when his mother decides they must leave their life in England behind because of threats fromLawrence's father. But their new life in Rome does not go as planned. Short of money and living off of his mother's old friends-all who seem to doubt her story--Lawrence soon realizes that things are notwhat they seem.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
The man of his family, nine-year-old Lawrence watches protectively over his mother and little sister, especially when, feeling endangered by their estranged father, his mother decides the three of them must leave their life in England to seek refuge in Rome, where, although short of money, they build a new life, until the trouble that brought them to Italy returns. 20,000 first printing.
About the Author
MATTHEW KNEALE was born in London in 1960, the son of two writers. He is the author of numerous prizewinning novels, including the bestselling English Passengers, which won the Whitbread Book of the Year prize and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He lives with his wife and two children in Rome, Italy.
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