‘An Abduction’ by Tessa Hadley

An Abduction by Tessa Hadley, 2012

The magic trick:

Using an epilogue to spin one of the story’s main points

A particularly naïve 15-year-old girl is abducted by three college boys for what proves to be a life-changing evening.

The story only covers about 24 hours, but we don’t need an epilogue to know these are going to be life-changing events for Jane. We don’t need an epilogue, but we get one anyway.

I was skeptical as it began. I liked where the story could have ended, still in the 1960s of its original premise.

But I was wrong to doubt such a master as Hadley. The epilogue unfolds a new theme for the story. I don’t want to ruin the ending for those who haven’t yet read the story, so I will stray from specifics, but it emphasizes a new angle and puts a new spin on the whole story.

Excellent stuff.

And that’s quite a trick on Hadley’s part.

The selection:

Daniel said that he’d rather not talk about Oxford. “His career there hangs in the balance between brilliance and disaster,” Paddy explained on his behalf. (Daniel’s senior tutor had warned that after certain brushes with the drug squad he might not be allowed to sit his finals.) “And he doesn’t know whether he cares.”

“I think we should swim,” Daniel suggested. “It’s just too fucking hot.”

Jane blushed: his word was so forbidden that she hardly knew how she knew it—the girls never used it at school. It was an entrance, glowering with darkness, into the cave of things unknown to her.

“But I haven’t got a costume,” she said.

“Bo Peep’s lost her sheep,” Nigel mocked.

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