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Clay

by Melissa Harrison

This novel conjures up the expression ‘a weed is just a plant in the wrong place’ referring not only to its poetic descriptions of nature, but also to the humans that inhabit it. Set in London’s urban common parkland, the prose of the changing seasons has a gentle innocence, in contrast to the human world which can be cynical and suspicious.

Extract

She gripped the handle of her stick and got up. The trees were bare and still, even the ivy’s vigour held in temporary abeyance, and only the robin spoke from a sweet chestnut, his song somehow reedier and more subdued than in spring. She paused and looked again at the park, as though committing it to memory, then crossed the grass to the high road and headed slowly north, past the second-hand furniture shop where Denny stood in the doorway with his arms crossed, past the chicken takeaway and the betting shop and the post office, its door set between towers of multicoloured buckets and stacking stools and cheap plastic crates.

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