A Month in the Country (Penguin Modern Classics)

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A Month in the Country (Penguin Modern Classics)

A Month in the Country (Penguin Modern Classics)

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Carr's early life was shaped by failure. He attended the village school at Carlton Miniott. He failed the scholarship exam, which denied him a grammar school education, and on finishing his school career he also failed to gain admission to t Carr was born in Thirsk Junction, Carlton Miniott, Yorkshire, into a Wesleyan Methodist family. His father Joseph, the eleventh son of a farmer, went to work for the railways, eventually becoming a station master for the North Eastern Railway. Carr was given the same Christian name as his father and the middle name Lloyd, after David Lloyd George, the Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer. He adopted the names Jim and James in adulthood. His brother Raymond, who was also a station master, called him Lloyd. The copy I obtained has a compelling Introduction from Penelope Fitzgerald, who, during her lifetime, was one of the most distinctive and eloquent voices in contemporary British fiction. She describes Carr (1912-1994) as someone who “always dwelt lovingly […] on details of behaviour that separate one region of England from another.” She saw that while he was “by no means a lavish writer,” he did have the “magic touch” when it came to revisiting “the imagined past.” There is so much about this short novel that defines a perfect read for me . It’s a quiet story where seemingly nothing happens, but yet there is so much that happens in ordinary moments of life , which for me make them extraordinary. I always enjoy these intimate, introspective stories and I felt for Tom Birkin right away . The writing is lovely. What more could I ask for?

Birkin’s artistic sensitivity and training make him an excellent describer of furniture, machines, architecture, and even people and the broader context of ancient lives. The plot concerns Tom Birkin, a World War I veteran employed to uncover a mural in a village church that was thought to exist under coats of whitewash. At the same time another veteran is employed to look for a grave beyond the churchyard walls. Though Birkin is an unbeliever, there is prevalent religious symbolism throughout the book, mainly dealing with judgement. The novel explores themes of England's loss of spirituality after the war, and of happiness, melancholy, and nostalgia as Birkin recalls the summer uncovering the mural, when he healed from his wartime experiences and a broken marriage. There are some sad lines here, about what Tom thinks God looks like in the small town where he's working: “uncompromising. . . no, more—threatening. This is my hand. This is what you did to me. And, for this, many shall suffer the torment, for thus it was for me.” But actually after the initial snottiness welcome from Vicar Keach …. who was not terribly enthusiastic about hiring Tom to restore a medieval wall mural, thinking he wasn’t a suitable person for the job….or happy that Tom would be living in the church’s bell-loft — The sound of these forging from flower to flower….cloudless skies….butterflies….blue jays….wood-pigeons…wild plants….poppies….bilberry scrubs…and those long summer days of warm weather…..brought the feelings of youth and love.There’s also a woman proffering apples to a man - in the church. You can’t get more Old Testament than that. Birkin’s job of clearing away centuries of overpaint, soot and dirt from what turns out to be a stunningly imagined Judgement scene underneath starts as simply something to fill his time at a moment when his life has fallen apart. He’s got this twitch from the War, and his wife Vinny has left him for another man but will probably return and start the cycle all over again. There was even a moment when “an extraordinary thing happened” and I briefly wondered if it might turn into a ghost story:

That description reminded me of some of the grisly medieval Romanesque religious art in the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, including these I photographed a few years ago:That’s the phrase the war veteran thinks of when he arrives in the small, poor Yorkshire village that is “starveling country”! A single immense piece of furniture like an internal buttress. In any ordinary room it would have been grotesque but, here, it fell into perfect scale. I’ve no idea what it was. It could have been a Baroque altar-piece, an oriental throne, a gigantic examination exercise performed by a cabinet-maker’s apprentice.”

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
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