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The Sense of Paperby Taylor Holden
Synopses & Reviews
Fragments of memory pierce her subconsciousness like shards of broken glass. Her body twitches convulsively in her sleep. Fear presses down on her chest, making it heave as she snatches for breath.
Bang. The cellar door is kicked in on its rusting hinges. A sweaty soldier lumbers toward her in the flickering torchlight. Behind him, others leer at her. His uneven teeth smirk beneath a wiry moustache as his left hand unzips his urine-stained trousers. A scream wells in her throat. Before she can utter a sound, his fat fingers, stinking of nicotine, are clamped across her mouth. His other hand drags her by her hair up the stone steps, scuffing her knees on every one.
Bang. Out in the pale moonlight, grubby hands reach for her, rending her clothing as she flails and twists away. A boot slams into her stomach, driving the air from her lungs. All she can smell is sweat, smoke, and semen. Fear gives her strength. Struggling in their grasp, she shouts: Novinar Zurnalista Journalist Their laughter fills the spaces in her head as they manhandle her roughly toward a clearing in the woods. Throwing her facedown in the dirt, they press forward eagerly, one by one.
Bang. She is up on her feet somehow and running hard. Running for her life. Gasping for breath through torn, bleeding lips. Clawing at the red earth with broken fingernails as she slips. Heading for the road in the dark.
Bang. The truck appears from nowhere in the darkness. The roar of its horn stuns her as she whirls to face the sudden brutal glare of its headlights bearing down on her.
Bang. Inconceivable, searing pain. The sensation of flying effortlessly through the clear night sky, before landing on theground with a sickening thud.
A full fifteen minutes under the shower's stinging hot jets usually dissolved the worst of the night. She'd already endured the first phase, vomiting into the toilet bowl until only yellow bile emerged as her cheek pressed against the cold white porcelain. This morning, purging was taking a lot longer. Charlie stood gripping the showerhead, neck arched, her mouth opening and closing as she allowed the steaming rivulets to cascade down her taut body. Inside her skull, her mind thrashed beyond her control, each involuntary reflex stirring up more mire from the depths of its murky pool.
Leaning into the water, relishing its cleansing power, she fought hard to focus. Happier days, That's it. Remember what it used to be like, a long time ago. Before. She swallowed hard to prevent the rising in her throat. Angry with herself, she knew she could do it. Remember the times when being with a man felt good. Remember how it could be. How it once was, with Nick. Taking a shower together, his lips everywhere, his knowing, capable hands pulling her head back by her soapy hair. Their self-control almost lost as she dropped to her knees and sought him out with her mouth. Before. Good. That's it.
If she didn't hurry, she was going to be late. She had an important appointment and she'd already slept through the buzzing alarm. But she wasn't ready, not quite yet. Just a few minutes more and she'd be fine. Soap. Water. Heat. The scent of rosemary oil and geranium. Essential oils. Essential to her.
Soon, the stench of nicotine would be gone from the membrane in her nostrils. Soon, she'd be able to face the day.
The silence lay heavy around themas he slid the key in the lock of the large, flat safe-deposit box. The stale air of the room deep within the bank vaults was filled with Alan's unique scent of varnish and linseed oil.
Far above them, the giant exhaust pipe of London belched in the summer heat. Fleets of taxis scuttled through the City like shiny black beetles, carrying their cargo home. Beneath the sizzling pavements, Charlie offered cool contrast in her lilac cotton sleeve
A journalist haunted by her wartime experiences, Charlie seeks refuge from her pain by researching the history of paper and of famed artist J. M. W. Turner, a quest that leads her to Sir Alan Matheson, a renowned scholar of the artist with whom she falls in love, but she soon discovers that her lover possesses his own troubled past. Original. 35,000 first printing.
“Think for a moment what paper means to people. How ubiquitous it is in everyday life….A material of paradoxes, it can be used and abused in a thousand ways and still be the same under its skin. It is the embodiment of man’s achievement, yet it is as transient and as flimsy as tissue…. In its strengths and weaknesses, faults and flaws, it is intensely human….”
A lush and intoxicating blend of art history, eroticism, and suspense, Taylor Holden's The Sense of Paper is like no other debut novel you’ve ever read. An enthralling exploration of the role of paper in art, it is also the sumptuous story of a woman living on the dangerous edge of obsession, passion, and murder.
About the Author
TAYLOR HOLDEN, as Wendy Holden, was a respected journalist for The Daily Telegraph, where she covered wars and events around the world, including Northern Ireland, the US, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. She has co-written several autobiographies of remarkable women, including Goldie Hawn's recent New York Times bestseller. She lives in Suffolk, England, with her husband and four dogs. This is her first novel.
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