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     Here in a warm room the father and daughter make the most of their breakfasting and reading hour: Charles Williams, Christopher Paolini, porridge and rhubarb, and tea. The father sitting at a table of lace cloth set with a potted-plant of scarlet and white flowered tulips. The girl (not yet eleven, and his last daughter) next to a window—mesmerised by her fantasy novel—reclines in her dressing gown enjoying the sunlit-bathed part of the room. Morning is getting late.

     She, the exuberant daughter, begins to talk of her delight in reading, not by saying that, but by showing her father the thick slabs of pages she has already devoured whilst lying in bed. He himself resists listening at first, then is caught by her and remembers the age and the time of youthful sunshine, of fresh discovery and of exultation in books as one who has found a doorway to a secret chamber of dreams.

     In her book, men are enslaved by powerful and intelligent, bird-like creatures and have recently abducted a princess. In his book, another daughter has been hypnotised by a preacher and sent into the world of the dead to retrieve information. She looks at London and sees a beautiful city of lights and shadow. She is torn between the terrible work she has been sent to do and her deepening awareness of a surprise: the inexplicable approach of light-filled love, a love that has just now mysteriously enabled her to say what her mother has never allowed her to say.

     'I am not very good at explaining … I've been trying to explain something to my mother for a long time, but I've never got it over.' She spoke aloud, but not to anyone present.'

 

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