Fiction readers with a sweet tooth and a high tolerance of Anglican whimsy are offered much beguilement in Sally Vickers' new novel Mr Golightly's Holiday
. Set in the Devon village of Great Calne, it records the events observed, and in part precipitated, by Mr Golightly, the author of a work once famous but now tending to be overlooked, who has elected to settle himself in this community for a while. Mr Golightly himself, a rumpled, elderly figure arriving in a half-timbered Traveller van, is a familiar enough version of "the male author"; Great Calne, an apparently idyllic village with a wide range of carefully differentiated characters, but underneath seething with unseen discontents and rivalries, is itself another easily summoned trope--the kind of community now perhaps most commonly encountered in fictional terms in TV shows. This is handy, for Mr Golightly decides that the best way of dragging his great work into the limelight of popularity and relevance is to recast it as a soap opera. In the event, he makes little headway with this project because, of course, the affairs of the village become all-absorbing and gradually draw him in. And so things unfold, as the characters carefully established by Sally Vickers work out their destinies in a mixture of social comedy (some of it very sharp), melodrama, nature mysticism and visionary redemption that delivers far more than the opening paragraphs can suggest. Moreover, the precise identity of Mr Golightly, while not exactly part of the plot, is disclosed gradually and may come as a surprise to some.
It should be said that this is not really a novel, although it does offer many of the satisfactions of a novel. It is a fable with distinctly eschatological overtones, and as such runs the general risks of the genre, most of which are successfully negotiated. --Robin Davidson
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
‘As profound as it is immensely readable.’ Mariella Frostrup, BBC Radio 4 Open Book
‘A compulsively readable novel.’ Observer
‘Vickers writes like a haunted angel.’ The Times
‘Full of charm.’ Independent on Sunday
‘Salley Vickers is a writer whose subtle intelligence and unobtrusive command of narrative I always enjoy. She sees with a clear eye and writes with a light hand, and she knows how the world works; and these qualities are much rarer than they should be. She's a presence worth cherishing in the ranks of modern novelists.’ Philip Pullman
‘Few novelists would dare tackle the theme of Salley Vickers's third novel; fewer still would pull it off so triumphantly. I am speechless with admiration.’ John Julius Norwich