"Sir, Kant, the philosopher, who lived all his life here, said what filled him with awe were 'the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me'."

"He said that particularly, did he, Klaus-Peter? That really was another time. The starry heavens, as we see, are still with us. But I confess I have not seen much in the way of a moral law anywhere these last few years. Have you?"

Why was it that men always wanted reassurance, to be told they were loved? It was so pointless. Either they were or they were not. Even so, she reached across with her right hand and placed the fingertips on his lower left arm, as if to feel a rhythm of sorrow in the pulsing veins. There is an official timespan for levels of mourning. After perhaps half a minute she removed the hand.

Would that make him Siegfried in her Wagnerian pantheon? No. Tannhauser? The ambiguous Tannhauser? Nor him, really. Nor Tristan, obviously. But Parsifal? Possibly. In a way he might be Parsifal. At any event what she did see in him was the chiaroscuro heart of the continent.

She did not care for doctors, or for the men and women who came after them, and asked such silly questions in soft voices, and could only tell her not to cry so much. They had taken her children away, and then then handed her back to the doctors to make certain she could bear no more. Did they expect that would make her want to cry less?

"What I know is that there is no pleasure in the sea. It is only for those whose work it is, and then not always for them. To sail without good purpose is to mock the sea, and the sea will not be mocked."

That night she dreamed again of the Antarctic wastes, and the solitary hole in the endless ice. The water had always been a cold silver, like mercury, but now it was a shimmering yellow. Golden, almost. To one side her husband stood, his naked body sheathed translucently from head to toe in the same fabulous liquid, as was the long pole which he carried in his right hand like a spear, as might a standard bearer, or a champion, or a redeemer.

She began to believe the river would carry her. She whose experiences had led her to trust nothing and no-one found she trusted the river.

"It was like a scene from Norse mythology. The dead stags, massive beasts, were laid out on the grass in front of the lodge, with torches flaming and the foresters sounding a fanfare of tribute. There has always been something primaeval at the heart of this land, and there it was. Uncovered."​

Then she had switched on the radio and they had danced to band music, at first formally, him with one arm around her waist, and later slowly, sumptuously, with both arms draped over silken shoulders.

He had looked very straight at her. Or sometimes through her. And at the end, as she left, and turned in the doorway, then he was already staring out of the window, at some point not to be found on any map of the known world.

Welcome to this website. My novel, Stepping into the Sun, was published by Matador in August 2021, and is available from Amazon and other sources as a physical book and as an e-book. There is an email address to which comments, good, indifferent and outright bad, can be directed: enquiries@steppingsun.com

To the left, hiding behind the image of the cover, is a slider, ready to be clicked on in the bottom right-hand corner, containing a collection of quotes from the novel, and below is a slider of images tracing the journey the main character makes from a cloistered existence in a sedate city to a much harsher environment.

I hope readers will find the contents on the other pages as interesting as did one reviewer of the book: "You will find a treasure trove of information brilliantly laid out. This is one of the best websites I have ever looked at. Most important, it’s simple and very easy to navigate, and packed with information, giving you an excellent insight into the author and the development, history and story at the heart of his novel."

Mark Heidenstam