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"Sackville Street was a scene of wreckage. The air still smelled of fire"

Read an extract from the book here. We also have 10 copies of the book to give away.

Lia Mills Lia Mills

LIA MILLS’ NOVEL Fallen is set in large part during the Easter Rising.

The novel tells the story of Katie Crilly, whose twin brother Liam has been killed on the Western Front during the Great War. When Dublin is engulfed by the Rising, Katie is torn between the cause her brother died for, and her love for Ireland. 

Then she meets Hubie Wilson, and things take an interesting turn. The book has been selected as Dublin and Belfast’s One City, One Book choice for 2016. Here is an extract from the book, where the Rising has just hit the capital. We have 10 copies of Fallen to give away – see the end of this article for more details. 

Fallen_BFormat_NEW

Tuesday, 25th April 2016

We stopped a man who was hurrying away from Sackville Street to ask if he knew what was happening. He said the gunmen had the hotels; the guests had been told to leave. He was just after helping a pair of elderly sisters up from the country find shelter.

Their boarding house was full to bursting and the woman there said they’d run out of supplies before long. There was no sign of the army, but word of German submarines off the coast. ‘You ladies’d be better off staying indoors, ’til it’s over.’ He lifted his hat and strode away.

A pulse thudded in my neck. ‘What would it mean,’ I asked Isabel, ‘if the Germans were here?’

‘One army’s as bad as another,’ Isabel said.

I looked at her with dislike. Mother could have been right about her, after all. ‘But if both sides are here …’ It was too obvious a thought to finish.

Sackville Street was a scene of wreckage. The air still smelled of fire. Children sifted through the rubbish, gathering scraps of wood. Strips of cloth were caught on spikes of barbed wire.

To avoid the guns, we walked east, then south, east again, then south again, discussing every turn, making dogleg tracks through backstreets and lanes where the atmosphere was one of aftermath: stunned, withheld. Doors, where there were doors, were open to the street. Shadowy figures moved around inside, a few people leaned on doorjambs or squatted against sun-warmed walls, talking in low voices. Lines of limp, drab washing stretched across the street overhead, from window to window. The monkey inclined people to be friendly.

Tishy spoke to him in high, bossy tones. ‘Look at the state of the place,’ she lectured. She hitched him up higher when he threatened to slide down her hip. ‘Do you want me to take him for a bit, Tishy?’ I asked. ‘I promise I’ll give him back.’

I took the animal from her. He was lighter than I’d expected, and his hair was stiffer. He held on to my coat, front and back, bunching the material in his fingers. He swayed along, tilting his head this way and that, while Tishy skipped alongside, humming a tuneless song.

On Abbey Street, a tangle of metal, brand-new bicycles and motor-cycles, were crammed together to make a barricade, about eight feet high. Small boys tugged on a bicycle. It made a harsh, metallic sound, but wouldn’t budge.

‘I wouldn’t go that way.’ The speaker wasn’t much older than us, but her teeth were blackened stumps. She was sweeping glass and debris into mounds, away from the road. ‘They say the British has the Customs House, beyond.’ She coughed, and spat. ‘Bad cess to them.’ She went back to her sweeping.

We took a side street to the quays. Butt Bridge looked clear. We edged up to it slowly, our backs to the quay wall. A trade union banner hung, limp, over the door to Liberty Hall, alongside a green one. The building was strangely still for one that was said to be crammed with revolutionaries, armed to the teeth. The windows were blank.

On the far side of the river, a man in a small crowd of bystanders waved a piece of white cloth. I caught Tishy’s sleeve to hold her back. She turned and took Paschal. I’d a strange impression of loss when his weight was lifted from me.

‘Are they calling us on, or warning us not to try it?’

A woman shook her fist at us, or at the house behind us. I looked back over my shoulder. A shadow moved at an upstairs window in Beresford Place. ‘They’re watching the bridges.’ It was like speaking lines from a book – or one of Liam’s earlier letters.

‘Who?’ Isabel asked. ‘I mean, which side are they?’

‘Does it matter?’ Lengths of metal jutted from the parapet of the railway bridge above us. I nudged her to look.

‘We could go back.’

‘If they were going to shoot us, they’d have done it by now.’ I wasn’t at all sure about that, but I didn’t want to turn back. Some stubborn nerve had set in me, driving me on.

Tishy decided it, stepping on to the bridge ahead of us. We edged out after her, then picked up our skirts and ran as best we could. ‘Go on, segocia!’ someone called.

There were cheers and applause when we reached the other side. Tishy made a little curtsey to our audience and on we went.

We turned and turned again, passed under the railway bridge at Westland Row without incident. The station entrance was blocked.

We’d been told there’d been trouble there, but we saw no sign of it. Relieved, we planned the rest of our route. All going well, I’d stop in at the hospital and tell Frieda where her sister was, make a detour to enquire about Eva, then follow them to Isabel’s house.

At the top of the street, we paused before crossing the road. ‘It’s eerie, isn’t it?’ I said. ‘So still.’

As if to contradict me, a motor-car came out through the back gate of Trinity and accelerated towards us. We waited for it to pass so we could cross, but it bumped to a stop beside us, a little Vauxhall. A tall man unfolded from the passenger seat. ‘Ladies,’ he said. ‘The streets aren’t safe. You should be at home!’

‘We’re on our way there now,’ Isabel said.

He glanced back at the driver. ‘And home is …’

‘Herbert Park.’

‘It’s on our way. Will you take a lift?’ He grasped Isabel’s elbow. ‘Do. The streets are unpredictable.’

A burst of rapid gunfire came from the direction of the Green.

Isabel hesitated. ‘Katie?’

There was no sign of trouble here. There was no traffic, apart from the Vauxhall. It looked very small.

‘You go. I’ll walk.’

Isabel bundled Tishy and Paschal into the car.

‘But where are you going?’ The driver looked cross. I was holding them up now. ‘Just up to Baggot Street, to the hospital. It’s not far. I’m not worried.’

The two young men assessed the distance between here and there, exchanged a look. ‘I insist.’ The driver’s face was grim.

I got in, with little grace. Two minutes later I was struggling out again, outside the hospital, and Isabel was telling me to go to her house for safety if anything happened.

Extracted from Fallen by Lia Mills which is the Dublin: One City, One Book choice for 2016. For further information go to www.dublinonecityonebook.ie.

We have 10 copies of Fallen by Lia Mills to give away. To be in with a chance of winning one (1) copy, email your name to competitions@thejournal.ie, with the email subject ‘Fallen book giveaway’.

Read: This Irish rebel smuggled bomb detonators under her coat and often dressed as a boy>

Watch: What Dublin looked like after the Easter Rising>

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