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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sneaky-Peeky Sundays: The Day of The Butterfly by Norah Lofts

As part of the Sneaky Peeky Sundays here on The Book Worm, here's the page I am currently reading from the book The Day of The Butterfly by author Norah Lofts. (This is a complimentary review copy sent by BookSneeze and not a paid copy.)

'Alongside his unwillingness to tell what he called pretty lies on canvas, there was another obstacle to success. He drank. Not moderately and regularly and what he could afford, but in fits and starts, sober for a month and then blind, sodden drunk for a week or ten days. Kitty knew because although she had not recommended him again as a portraitist she had put other jobs in his way. Her supper room frescoes; the cloud-and-cherub ceilings in two of her most expensive bedrooms were much admired, and some people wanted their places similarly decorated. You'd have thought that was the sort of work he couldn't muck up. Yet he did, time and again. He'd begin, get so far and then go on the booze.

Kitty believed that the coincidence between the good, paying jobs and the drunken fits was due to the fact that he had money. She was quite wrong. He'd begin, get so far and then the feeling would sweep over him. Here am I, the best painter in the world, able to paint people's souls as well as their faces, and I'm painting God-damned cherubs on bloody ceilings! The only way of escape was to drink.

Why she hadn't long ago given him up as hopeless Kitty never could understand, but somehow she never had. Something about him appealed to something in her, and if too long elapsed before he exercised the right of entry, the right to eat and drink whatever he liked, free of charge, she'd send somebody round to the dreadful-sounding place where he lived, an attic over a greengrocer's shop in Soho.

Now, thanks to a girl so rightly, yet so wrongly, named Daisy, she could send for him and offer him a job, which by God he couldn't muck up or dodge away from, for he'd be under her eye all the time. And that would be a short time.

Jacky came on call. He was sober, though Kitty's experienced eye could tell that the drunken fir was not far in the past; eyes still a bit bleary, hands not too steady. He was, however, clean and well groomed and wearing the formal black and white that constituted the dinner wear of a gentleman. He was a gentleman, Kitty knew; she could always tell by the voice, but his clothing was apt to be erratic.'

- Debolina Raja Gupta