Novels Elementary

Man-size in Marble by Bill Bowler

The main character of this book is Jack Collis. When he got engaged to Laura, he knew that their young family would not have much money. Despite everything the couple decided to get married. Jack was a painter. Laura wrote stories. Living in the city was very expensive, so they started looking for a suitable house in the suburb. They wanted a nice and cozy home with a toilet inside, not outside. But Jack and Laura could not find a suitable cottage for a long time: either too expensive or not comfortable enough. On their wedding day, they found a perfect house in a small village near the coast. The house was two miles away from the village. It turned out to be incredibly cheap. The newlyweds immediately decided to rent it on the same day.

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Man-size in Marble by Bill Bowler

My name is Jack Collis, and every word of this story is true – although many people probably won’t believe it. These days people need a logical explanation before they believe anything. If you want an explanation like that, perhaps my wife Laura and I just imagined everything that happened to us on that 31st of October 1893. I’ll let you, the reader, decide.

When I became engaged to Laura, we knew we wouldn’t have much money when we married. I used to paint in those days, and Laura wrote. Living in town was expensive, so we started looking for a country cottage – something pretty but with an inside toilet – to live in after we were married. We searched in newspaper advertisements for some time, but all the cottages that we visited with inside toilets looked terrible, and all the pretty ones had no inside toilets.

On our wedding day we were still homeless, but on our honeymoon we found the perfect place. It was in Brenzett, a little village on a hill in the south, not far from the coast. We’d gone there from the seaside town where we were staying to visit the church. Nearby we found a pretty cottage with a bathroom, standing all alone about two miles from the village. It was a long low building with flowers round it, all that was left of a big old house which had once stood here. We decided to rent it at once. It was awfully cheap.

Man-size in Marble by Bill Bowler

We spent the rest of our honeymoon buying old furniture from shops in the nearby market town, and new curtains and chair covers from one of the big shops up in London, and the place soon began to feel like home. It was easy to work there. I never got tired of painting the countryside and the wonderful sky I could see through the open window, and Laura sat at the table and wrote about all of it, and about me.

We found a tall old woman from the village to cook and clean for us. She was tidy, skilled at cooking, and understood everything about gardens. She also told us the old names of the places nearby, and tales of robbers who’d once lived there, and of ghosts who sometimes met people in the neighborhood when it was late at night…

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