What would the world be, once bereftAnd in her way, Lady Grace Fanner had been a wet and wild thing in her younger days [see the prequel], but in Chapter 2 of Titmuss Regained she's
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
a woman of eighty, her legs and arms shrunk as though from enforced starvation [and she] lay waiting, with growing impatience, for death. Grace Fanner was unaccustomed to being kept waiting for anything...She lay now, an unpaid-for and half-drunk bottle of champagne beside her, her diminutive body scarcely swelling the coverlet on the bed in which her husband Nicholas, over a decade before, had met death with the polite but puzzled smile with which he had greeted all his visitors.
"I've been reading the Bible."
The Rector of Rapstone, Kevin Bulstrode, known to many of his parishioners as Kev the Rev., looked at her as though this activity were a sign of mental weakness, like astrology or studying the measurements of the Great Pyramid.
"Not the Old Testament?" he asked nervously.
"Particularly the Old Testament. What a swine God was, most of the time." Lady Fanner said this with a tight smile of admiration. "Smiting people in a way I've hardly ever done. Right, left, and center...I read the Book of Job." She lifted the great weight of a half-filled glass to her lips and pecked at it in the manner of a blue tit at a bird-bath. "God certainly gave that poor bugger a hard time. Boils!"
"I think you'll find that He has grown a little more civilized down the centuries. As, perhaps, we all have." Kevin Bulstrode did his best to sound reassuring. "I don't think the Old Testament God should be taken as a model of behaviour."
"Oh, I do. I quite definitely do. I'd love to see my son-in-law afflicted with boils. That is, if the Right Honourable Leslie Titmuss hasn't got plenty of them already...." [pp. 9-11]