It has always interested me how life can turn on a sixpence, for better and worst.  Adam Bede is one of the finest English novels, and it has a number of moments when events take a fateful turn.  Here we have Adam recalling – all his life – exactly where he was and what he was doing before one of those decisive spins of the sixpence. This startling clarity of recall suggests the degree of impact of what followed.

‘For the rest of his life he remembered that moment when he was calmly examining the beech, as a man remembers his last glimpse of the home where his youth was passed, before the road turned, and he saw it no more.’

Source: George Eliot, Adam Bede (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985 (1859)), p. 341

Photo credit: Paul Smith at


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