Tuesday, 23 June 2009
Following Paperback Reader's Man Booker post, where it looked like I had read 13 of the Man Booker winners, I decided I should probably read some more. Or at least another one, while it was fresh in my mind. I'm not sure how I came across it, but I got Holiday by Stanley Middleton out of the library yesterday. As soon as I sat down with it at lunchtime, I knew that I had to quote the first three sentences, they were fantastic and made me just want to keep on reading.
"Light shimmered along the polished pews as the congregation heaved itself to its feet, hailing the Lord's Anointed. Grain arrows waved darkly in the wood under the coating of shellac, the brightness of elbow grease. Brass umbrella-holders gleamed, but the metal rectangle to house the name of the pew's occupier had been allowed to blacken in disuse".
I know I'm not really supposed to tell you more, but I am really gripped by this book, and am only a few chapters in. It's the story of Edwin Fisher, who is on holiday in a rundown seaside resort. I love the descriptions of the resort and his stay, as it takes me back to a couple of trips to Bournemouth with my Mum and Gran when I was very little, where we stayed in a B and B, and went for walks after dinner. I haven't got very far, but Edwin has just bumped into his soon to be ex-father in law. It's really very good, and feels just right to be reading on a sunny day.
One thing that surprised me though when I picked the book up off the shelf is the printing/construction of the volume (this always interests me, as I have a work interest in bindings, as I am required to describe them when I am cataloguing a pre-1800 book); the edition I have is the most recent, published by Five Leaves, but the quality feels as if it is a book that someone had privately printed (vanity publishing perhaps). I have to say that if I had not known that this was a Booker Winner, I would not have pulled it off the shelf. But I am glad that I did.