Thursday, 10 September 2015

Excerpt! A Single Breath - Amanda Apthorpe

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A Single Breath
Author: Amanda Apthorpe
Genre: Literary fiction

“Life’s beginning and its end hinged on a single breath as though the rest was conducted in its pause.”

When the first hate letter arrives in the days after her patient, Bonnie's death, obstetrician Doctor Dana Cavanagh reads it with shaking hands before placing it next to the small news article of the court's verdict: not guilty.

Hate letters continue to trickle in, but one stands out from the others—a cryptic message with a tiny marble stone, its origin—Kos, Greece, the birthplace of Hippocrates. She had once proudly sworn his oath, "I will give not deadly medicine."

Accompanied by her sister Madeleine, Dana follows the mystery of the letter to Kos. The arrival of two more letters, and the strange appearances of a woman, beckon her to Italy and England. Despairing for her sanity, Dana persists in her crusade to come to terms with being implicated in the death of another.

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Amanda Apthorpe is a Melbourne-based, Australian author of fiction and non-fiction. She studied at the University of Melbourne and holds a PhD and a Masters degree in creative writing, is a Master of science and a teacher with over twenty-five years experience. Amanda currently teaches in the Professional Writing and Editing program at the Centre for Adult Education, and is active in the international academic community of writing. She is published by Atlas Productions.

Twitter: @AmandaApthorpe


While she slept I wrote to our parents. They were of the generation who still valued the written letter—something to store with all the other mementoes of life.

What would I think of the contents of this letter if I were to read it in ten, or even twenty years time?

Where would I be in my life?

The future seemed to be a gaping abyss. At the thought that my parents might not be alive in twenty years, I wrote with a greater intensity. Correspondence so far had been notes on postcards and occasional telephone calls.

My mother would pass the letter to my father and ask him to read my ‘news’. It was strange that she was the keeper of the memorabilia and wondered if she was stockpiling evidence of happy childhoods and, therefore, successful mothering. Madeleine was kinder in her reflections on our childhood though she had the perspective of the younger child; our mother had gained more experience and had warmed to her role a little more the second time around.

Our parents were an odd union, opposites in both the obvious and the fundamental ways. Yet, it worked, or at least it had lasted. In its way their relationship became the benchmark for my own, but Julian and I, opposites in the obvious, and so similar in the fundamentals, could not survive.


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