Edge of Eternity
by Ken Follett
(London, Pan Books, 2014)
It would be like checking herself into a lunatic asylum and pretending all the other inmates were sane.
Marriage is a promise. You can’t keep a promise only when it suits you. You have to keep it against your inclination. That’s what it means.
Communists were as conservative about art as Victorian matrons.
She watched the emotions ross his face: men were easy to read.
He had the look of a man desperately trying to think of a story and failing to come up with something that would meet all the facts.
Typing was as unique as handwriting. Every machine had its own characteristics. The letters were never perfectly aligned: some were a little raised, some off centre. Individual letters became worn or damaged in distinctive ways. In consequence, police experts could match a typewriter to its product.
Liberalization proceeded by two steps forward and one back.
A man hates the person he has wronged, paradoxically, I think it’s because the victim is a perpetual reminder that the behaved shamefully.
Moral rules must be obeyed when it doesn’t suit us. Otherwise, why would we need rules?
No one’s an angel - especially if he’s a man.
Women listen. Men talk.
Gorky Park was an oasis in the desert of earnest Communism, a place Muscovites could go simply to have fun. People put on their best clothes, bought ice cream and candy, flirted with strangers and kissed in the bushes.
Communism was supposed to be a joyous crusade to make a better world. Sometimes the Soviet Union was more like a medieval monastery where everyone had taken vows of poverty and obedience.
What Cuba really needed as to be left alone.
The unwritten rule was that ex-presidents did not attack their successors.
Jack Kennedy had won by calling Eisenhower weak and inventing a non-existent ‘missile gap’ in the Soviets’ favour.
In politics, everything was connected.
Medical details were of great interest to many women.
Old men who did not know when to quit were a major problem in the Soviet Union.
The Americans did not know it, but the Soviet Union had few nuclear weapons, nowhere near the numbers the US had. The Soviets could hurt the Americans, yes, but het Americans could wipe the Soviet Union off the face of the earth.
The greater their ignorance, the stronger their opinions.
In his memory he replayed their time together over and over.
It was a good thing women could not read men’s minds.
Sex with the one you love is the second best thing in the world.
To love someone, he now realized, was to have something so precious that you could not bear to lose it.
He helped her become calm by being calm himself.
Feeling responsible was not as comfortable as feeling outraged.
People were sometimes reluctant to share information, whereas they were always flattered to be asked for advice.
So widespread was queue-jumping that most Muscovites believed no one ever got to the top of a list just by waiting.
Influence is your reward for hard work.
Drafting legislation was a rational process; politics, by contrast, was an intuitive game.
Negroes described their suffering in the words of the Old Testament prophets, and bore their pain with the consolation of Jesus’ gospel of hope.
The older generation felt they had the right to be rude about young people’s clothes.
You’ll never make mine until you’re in control.
Angry words masked his pain.
Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom.
A person who breaks a promise diminishes herself. It’s like losing a finger. It’s worse than being paralysed, which is merely physical. Someone whose promises are worthless has a disabled soul.
I saw a medieval map once. It sowed the earth as a flat disc with Jerusalem in the centre. Rome was bigger than Africa, and America was not even shown, of course. The heart is that kind of map. The self is in the middle and everything else is out of proportion. You draw the friends of your youth large, then later it’s impossible to re-scale them when other more important people need to be added. Anyone who has done you wrong is shown too gig, and so is anyone you loved.
Promiscuity was adolescent. He demeaned himself by showing up at every literary party with a different date. By now he should have settled down in a serious relationship with a woman who was his equal. She could be younger, perhaps, but she should be able to match his intelligence and appreciate his work, perhaps even help him with it. He needed a partner, not a series of trophies.
Poles spoke boldly about the failings of Communist governments. They felt entitled to complain in a way that other Soviet subjects did not. Most people in the Soviet bloc treated communism as a religion that it was a sin to question. The Poles tolerated Communism as long as it served them, and protested as soon as it fell short of their expectations.
A man’s love should be a helpless passion, not a moral duty.
For all sorts of reasons, people wore clothes they hated.