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Afterlife: A Divine Comedy by Donald Denoon

By Donald Denoon

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Sample text

I saw someone in the grip of such embarrassment that she burbled. Sympathy? I’d have sympathised with anyone in that predicament, even one who didn’t look like a damsel in distress. That was in my mind as I murmured reassurance. Heartfelt but incoherent; ‘Hold on 52 afterLIFE please, Althea … Shit! So sorry. Stupid of me, I know exactly who. Of course I do, you’re Althea’s sister Winfield. Christ: I mean Winifred. Winifred Jolliffe. Of course. ’ The perfect recall is the result of the blistering pain of that moment.

I wanted to change society by accumulating the kind of authority that the Anglicans seemed to enjoy from birth. Colin was much more concerned with individual action to relieve individual pain. Although we had such different ambitions, we shared a determination to leave town — and we discussed how to escape. It was a lop-sided relationship. Mum was uncomfortable in Colin’s presence and I knew (even before she told me) that he’d better be gone before Father came home. Matters were completely different in the Chang household.

In this bizarre dream I had nothing to lose by cooperating. Afterwards I’d either wake up or I’d make some sense of the situation. Meanwhile I broke my rule and accepted the commission even before I asked Gabriel to describe it. ‘Do I accept these unspecified terms? ’ ALTHEA AND WINIFRED L ike Brahmins, Cardigan City Anglicans were a caste, distinguished by dress and bearing. And, among the elegant Anglicans, one family was acknowledged as the most graceful. James Jolliffe — the town’s leading solicitor — knew the affairs of everyone and would reveal nothing.

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