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The Garden of Martyrs

excerpt :: :: Author Michael C. White :: The Garden of Martyrs ::
A new novel by

Michael C. White

"It always took him the odd moment or two to get his bearings. Sometimes when he first awoke...he found himself back with the Franciscans, in that long, narrow, high-ceilinged room with the other orphans...."


Excerpt from
The Garden of Martyrs


Northampton, Massachusetts

He awoke in the small hours of morning, in that slippery, blue-black territory between night and day, when a man's heart can fail him utterly. In the bunk next to his, Daley was snoring away. It always amazed him how soundly the fellow slept, as untroubled as the sleep of a child with a full belly. Occasionally Daley might call out something. Finola, he'd say, where are me shoes? But he hardly ever roused himself into consciousness, didn't so much as turn over. He woke in the same position he went to sleep in, on his back, hands locked behind his head.

Halligan had trouble sleeping. His mind swirling with thoughts and images, half-recalled songs from home, scraps from a life which seemed as unreal, as distant as the moon. And when he did manage finally to fall asleep, it felt as if he were falling, plunging into black space. His dreams were tangled affairs from which he woke thrashing and fighting as if trying to free himself from a net made of sorrow.

It always took him the odd moment or two to get his bearings. Sometimes when he first woke, especially in the dark, he found himself back with the Franciscans, in that long, narrow, high-ceilinged room with the other orphans, old Brother Padraig passing among their beds, rousing them with his rough hands to morning devotions and chores. Other times he believed himself to be in the stables of some gentleman in whose employ he'd been, the reassuring snorting and snuffling of the horses in their nearby stalls gently stirring him. But other times, the worst by far, he thought himself in that quiet, secluded place among the willow and pine trees, lying on the soft cool moss that grew along the mountain stream. It was there he used to meet a young girl with raven-colored hair and eyes dark and luminous as opals. In the treachery of those first few moments between sleep and waking, he was teased into believing she was lying beside him, her presence so palpable, so unmistakable, he could almost feel the velvety down along her cheek and the smooth thrill of her thighs, could smell the apple fragrance of her hair. In the darkness, he would whisper, Bridie, and then again, Bridie. But when he reached out to touch her, the only thing his hand came into contact with was the cold stone wall of his cell.


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Michael C. White, author of Soulcatcher, released in October 2007 is author of A Brother's Blood (Harper Collins), a NY Times Book Review Notable Book of 1996 as well as a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection explores issues of assimilation and injustice in The Garden of Martyrs (St. Martin's Press).

A recommended read.
If you are looking for imaginatively drawn historical figures, The Garden of Martyrs evokes troubled times and Michael C. White writes his characters in an elegant and leisurely manner, rendering dialect and idiomatic phrases with intuitive skill. This story unveils strong New England sociopolitical mysteries (the motif here is cultural assimilation and the inherent injustice) much in the way that a shy Irish bride opens her heart: with passion, longing, and trepidation. Fans of historical novels, especially those touching on the Irish "troubles" and juxtaposed with the French Revolution, will gather around the New England lamp light and be thrilled to acquaint themselves with White's newest and most engaging work of fiction. --Editor's Note



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