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All is True in Rumer Godden’s The Greengage Summer, finds Griselda Heppel

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First, get rid of the parents. Rule 1 of writing a children’s adventure story. You have to neutralise the parents in some way because they’ll prevent your child characters running any sort of risk further than climbing the odd tree, or getting home after dark.  Tree-climbing with parents - not much risk here. Photo by Darina Belonogova: https://www.pexels.com/photo/ people-climbing-the-tree-8764872/ That’s why so many heroes of children’s books are either orphans, or have parents unable to function as a result of illness or other misfortune.  For obvious reasons, stories for adults don’t have to follow this rule; hence I was convinced - at the beginning - that a book I read recently was for children, not grown-ups. The heroine was 13, after all, and most of the other characters were younger than that. Their father was away collecting plants in Tibet (the classic Absent Explorer Father trope), while their mother was taken seriously ill right at the start of the story. The children fi

A Grand Finale for an Ex-Prime Minister -- Andrew Crofts

  This is the seventh, and ultimate, monthly chapter in the saga of an ex-prime minister - unless, of course, something else interesting happens ... “Dancing?” Teddy looked entirely non-plussed by the word. “Are you sure I’m the right man for the job?” “It’s the most popular programme in the country at the moment,” Ding pointed out. “You put on some pretty spectacular shows on dance floors in your youth,” Puppy reminded him. “Did I?” Teddy squinted hard, as if trying to conjure up a picture of his past. “I don’t remember that.” “No, well,” Ding shrugged, “you were usually pretty loaded.” “But you had a pretty good natural rhythm,” Puppy interjected. “The girls always seemed pretty impressed.” “Ah, yes,” Teddy’s eyes misted over. “The girls. They all like a chap with a few natty moves.” “Indeed,” Ding said, “so you are booked to be on the next series. Rehearsals start next week.” The producers at Strictly had a number of heated meetings around the subject of which of the

Cover Up -- by Susan Price

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    Nightcomers by Susan Price     I've self-published three collections of  ghost stories-- or, at least, 'stories of the uncanny.' Not all of them are, strictly, ghost stories. But they all contain some element of the supernatural or eerie.   I think these stories contain some of my best writing, but I'd become unhappy with their covers. I  felt they needed freshening up.        Nightcomers , originally published by Hodder, was perhaps the most difficult. One of the stories is based on a legend about ghostly horsemen who, on Midsummer Night, ride down from their grave-mound to water their horses at the river, before returning to sleep under the mound.    Tradition demands that the owner of the land they ride across should make sure there is a farrier waiting, to replace the ghostly horses' shoes with new ones made of silver. The original cover referenced that story.     What to put in its place? Nightcomers?  Night? -- The moon? A blood moon? My first design