Book summary: Under the Sign of the Moon

2014 BY TESSA HADLEY

The train paused at a red light on its way into the station, waiting for a platform to clear. The passengers had put on their coats and put away their laptops and lifted their bags down from the luggage rack; some were already standing, queuing between the seats. Liverpool was the last station, the end of the two-and-a-half-hour journey from London; they were ready to move on but could not move anywhere yet. Quiet and stillness settled unexpectedly on the carriage. Because the forward motion of their lives was suspended while they waited, the passengers were suddenly more intimately present to one another—although no one spoke or made eye contact. Greta felt the change in atmosphere and looked up from her book and out the window, keeping her finger on her page. They were waiting in shadow, in a cutting between high walls of red sandstone.

In the rock, she could see, like art patterns following the natural lines of the strata, the chisel marks of the navvies who’d once cut and blasted down into it. The rock face was streaked with moss, and here and there buddleia and fern had rooted, scrawny because they lived out their lives in this subterranean railway kingdom; far above, ash saplings stood out against a pale sky. The strata in the rock were woven into sections of brick wall and the old bricks—small and vivid .

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