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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

The Ebony Tower (John Fowles)

John Fowles, best known for The French Lieutenant’s Woman and The Magus, has some stirring stories in his collection “The Ebony Tower” … from which this short extract comes. Fowles, as I have learned, is wonderfully gifted in giving the reader both deep insight of humanity while simultaneously keeping the story moving forward.

Here, in the novella “The Ebony Tower”, an aging painter replies to the age-old question between men, “Women in your prime were just as horny as they are now, ain’t they, pops?” :

“I thought the girls of the ‘twenties were rather dazzling.” [says David]

The stick was raised in genially outraged contradiction.

“Absolute piffle, my dear man. No idea. Spent half your life getting their legs open. Other half wishing you hadn’t. Either that. Catching the clap off some tart. Dog’s life. Don’t know how we stood it.”

But David was unconvinced, and knew he was meant to be. The old man regretted nothing at heart; or only the impossible, another life.


Max, the blind guy is the story of Max and Greta Ruth, and the power that all their demons have over them after 40 years of friendship, marriage, and the art world. Author and read an excerpt that you won’t find at on-line bookshops.

What Beauty was published in 2012. It’s a story of art, obsession and ego. Read an excerpt here. It’s available FREE TO YOU for a limited time when you sign up for BiblioGrind updates — learn more here.

The Village Wit (2010) is a humorous and sometimes dark odyssey through village life, love’s fall, sexual politics, and that place where memory and modern love intersect. Read an excerpt here. This book is also available as an ebook.

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