The Rapture

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 8/11/2009
  • Publisher: Doubleday

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With gothic intensity, Liz Jensen conjures the unnerving relationship between Gabrielle, a physically and emotionally damaged therapist, and her patient, sixteen-year-old Bethany, who is incarcerated in a British psychiatric hospital for the brutal murder of her mother. Delving deep into the psyche of her fascinating, manipulative patient, Gabrielle is confronted by alarming coincidences between the girl's paranoid disaster fantasies and actual incidents of geological and meteorological upheaval. Coincidences her professionalism tells her to ignorebut which her heart cannot. As Bethany's warnings continue to prove accurate beyond fluke, and she begins to offer scientifically precise hints of a final, world-altering cataclysm, Gabrielle is confronted with a series of devastating choices. Only to discover that in a world on the brink of apocalypse, belief is as preciousand as dangerousas life itself....

Author Biography

LIZ JENSEN is the author of many novels, including Egg Dancing; Ark Baby, a New York Times Notable Book; My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time; and The Ninth Life of Louis Drax, in development as a major motion picture.



That summer, the summer all the rules began to change, June seemed to last for a thousand years. The temperature was merciless: ninety-eight, ninety-nine, then a hundred in the shade. It was heat to die, go nuts or spawn in. Old folk collapsed, dogs were cooked alive in cars, lovers couldn't keep their hands off each other. The sky pressed down like a furnace lid, shrinking the subsoil, cracking concrete, killing shrubs from the roots up. In the parched suburbs, ice cream trucks plinked their baby tunes into streets that sweated tar. Down at the harbor, the sea reflected the sun in tiny, barbaric mirrors. Asphyxiated, you longed for rain. It didn't come.

But other things came, seemingly at random. The teenage killer, Bethany Krall, was one of them. If I didn't know, back then, that turbulence obeys specific rules, I know it now. During just about every one of those nights, I'd have dreams that were so vivid they felt digitally enhanced. Sometimes I could do more than just walk and run and jump. I could do cartwheels; I could practically fly. I'd be an acrobat, flinging my body across the empty air, then floating in the stratosphere like a Chagall maiden. Other times I'd find myself with Alex. He'd be throwing his head back to laugh, as if nothing had happened. Or we'd be having urgent sex, in a thrash of limbs. Or engaging in the other thing we'd so quickly become experts at: fighting. Viciously. Also as if nothing had happened.

Then I'd wake. I'd lie there, my upper body still sweating, the mail-order fan strafing the air across my naked skin, and let the new day infiltrate in stages. The last stage, before I rose to wash and dress and fight my tangled hair, like someone emerging from a date-rape drugging, would be the one in which I'd dutifully count my blessings. This folksy little ritual stayed brief because the way I saw it, they didn't add up to much.

When the skies finally broke, it felt biblical, megalomaniacal, as though orchestrated from on high by an irate Jehovah. On the coasts, cliffs subsided, tipping soil and rubble and silt onto the beaches, where they lodged in defiant heaps. Charcoal clouds erupted on the horizon and massed into precarious metropolises of air. Out at sea, beyond the gray stone bulwarks of the port, zigzags of lightning electrocuted the water, bringing poltergeist winds that sucked random objects up to whirl and dump. Passionate gusts punched at the sails of moored boats and then headed inland, flattening corn, uprooting trees, smashing hop silos and storage barns, whisking up torn garbage bags that pirouetted in the sky like the ghostly spirits of retail folly. Maverick weather was becoming the norm across the globe: we'd all learned that by now, and we were already frustrated by its theatrical attention-seeking, the sheer woe of its extremes. Cause and effect. Get used to the way A leads to B. Get used to living in interesting times. Learn that nothing is random. Watch out for tipping point. Look behind you: perhaps it's been and gone.

Psychic revolution, worlds upended, interrogations of the status quo, the eternal proximity of hell: subjects close to my heart at this point. Popular wisdom declares that it's a mistake to make major changes in the wake of a catastrophic event in your personal life. That you should stay close to your loved ones--or, in their absence, to those best placed and most willing to hold your hand through the horror-show of your new, reconfigured life. So why, in the aftermath of my accident, had I so obstinately done the opposite? I was so sure, when I made it, that my decision to quit London was the right one, arrived at after a cool mental listing of the pros and cons. But my Chagall-maiden dreams and the restlessness that infected me seemed evidence of another, less welcome possibility: that once again I had sabotaged my life--as thoroughly and as definitively as only a professional psychologist can. My brain, working ove

Excerpted from The Rapture by Liz Jensen
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