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The Way Back to Florence

Glenn Haybittle

Top 10 Best Quotes

“Artists, like criminals, are dependent on a jury.”

“On the brightening air drifts a scent of refreshed stone, moistened soil. She feels the earthy fingerprint of the cold morning air spread over her skin as if she is in the act of undressing. Her body has an early morning weightlessness about it. She might almost be a memory of herself. Conjured up by the sleeping city.”

“The painting you saw in your mind was beautiful when it was your secret. Once it’s on the canvas it’s as if someone else has got hold of your secret and sullied it, distorted it.”

“Often of late she has accused herself of being a hard woman. As if she will not suffer her soil to be raw and tender, will not submit to the vulnerability of the new green shoot.”

“Father love is ancient and austere, like mountains. It is difficult to accept the collapsing of a mountain.”

“When he turns inland he sees two moving white columns in the sky. At first glance he thinks they are emissions of smoke. The two encroaching formations ripple into funnels and then spread out beneath the labyrinthine coral of clouds into fans. His vision blurs for a moment. Then he realises he is witnessing two perfectly synchronised flocks of birds. The abstract shapes they form are flawless. He stands with his hands in his pockets as the birds taper into a long undulating line, which gently vanishes behind the surface of things. The same thing has happened to his father. He has vanished behind the surface of things.”

“The sight of Florence below, the cluster of churches and towers and palaces tiered up on either side of the river, is as familiar as his own hand, as surreal as any nightmare. The setting of many of the most intimate and heartening moments of his life. Taunting him now with a spell of inaccessibility. Since the advent of war many things have happened to him that he could not possibly have imagined. He wonders if this is one of the subliminal reasons men wage war. To increase the daily frequency of surprise and shock. The forerunners of revelation.”

“She inhales the peppery warm breath of the cypresses. She loves their scent. It’s a scent that seems to make moments memories even before they’ve stopped happening.”

“Children don’t expect words to be used to create false trails. Words to Esme are plain and simple with no hidden codes, no duplicitous underlife. He thinks of the conversations with his wife and how little of what they said was without encryption.”

“Superstition in wartime takes a more powerful hold on the mind. One sees omens in everything. One is returned to a more primitive view of the world and its sign language.”

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