I wrote quite a bit about this yesterday, but I hadn't got very far with it. However, my initial impressions happily turned out to reflect the rest of the book. I think two things stood out about it - firstly, a plot where not very much happened on the surface, but by drawing you into the past lives of the characters turned out to be very gripping, and secondly, some very beautiful writing, such as the Teaser that I transcribed yesterday.
As I wrote yesterday, it's the story of Edwin Fisher, who is on holiday in a rundown seaside resort, where he used to go as a child. The resort is wonderfully described, as are his fellow holidaymakers. But the book is not really about his holiday, it is about his relationship with his wife, from whom he is temporarily estranged. On his first night, he runs into his father-in-law in a run down pub. His father-in-law is desperate to arrange a meeting between Edwin, and Meg, his wife, and as the book unfolds we witness failed attempts to get them together. At the same time, Edwin remembers how he got together with Meg in the first place, and the events that lead to it all going wrong.
I loved this book because I love books about relationships and people's lives, and I thought this was beautifully constructed and fantastically well-written. You should read this if you ever went on holiday somewhere like Bournemouth or Bognor; there is plenty of nostalgia in the book. I[m intrigued that this book was a "joint-winner" in 1974, I should read the other winner (The conservationist, by Gordimer) to see how it compares, I suppose. But I will definitely be reading more of Stanley Middleton.
Mavis Gallant’s “Madeline’s Bithday” (1951)
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