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The Claude Glass

by Tom Bullough

Two small boys are growing up with their hippy farmer parents in rural Wales and meet Andrew, son of neighbouring farmer whose life is very different to theirs. He lives in rags, sleeps with the dogs and survives on scraps from the table. Half fairytale, half poem, this evocative novel deals with the relationship between the three boys and delivers a haunting portrait of the extremes of rural life.

Extract

'Honestly, Philip. You are an old miser! ' the woman laughed, her voice shrill and uncomfortable. 'Can’t you at least buy this boy some decent clothes?' 'That’s enough, Branwen!' barked an old man, who was sitting near the fire. 'You keep your bloody nose out of it!' For a moment, Andrew looked at the two of them, sucking on his empty pipe, wondering why they sounded upset, but then he realised that they were talking about him and he hid himself beneath his father’s old cap and buried his arms inside his jacket. Beside him, he heard Philip gulp down his cider, slam down the glass and reach for the other. Around him, the room was so quiet now that he could hear the whispering of the fire, the rumble of a tractor outside on the lane, and he understood that it was his fault that they were all so angry. He sat on the stool in his dog-shredded jumper, the sleeves spilling down over his hands, in the cut-down, filth-smeared trousers that, like most of his clothes, had once belonged to his father, and all that he wanted was to be back in the barn, to be curled up with the sheepdogs, among the bales and the sweet, sharp smells.

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A by Tom Bullough
 

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