'Limpidly and lovingly, Norman Lewis has caught the helpless, unwitting, often foolish but always hopeful village in its dying summers and saved the tragedy with sublime comedy' Observer
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Not so with Norman Lewis. It is the wonderful writing that makes it inevitable that we are drawn completely into the world he describes. How can such simplicity of style produce such colour and tone? How can he be at once at arm's length and yet entirely immersed in the world he describes? It makes for sublime and delicate description. Lewis is present but barely so. This in itself is a major difference from today's solipsistic potboilers. The world he sees is what he writes about: he himself does not "do" anything. He does not rebuild a farm, buy a tractor, hire a plumber... Those that he finds there are the principle characters: he does not take the stage himself.
He writes about a Spain that was virtually mediaeval, even after WW2. Now a 14 hour run from Calais by car or 2 hours by no-frills airline, this community were then living "behind God's back". Tourism was as far as Franco was prepared to unbend: a few thousand foreigners for three or four weeks on an otherwise useless stretch of coast and the Guardi Civil to arrest anyone in a bikini ....
On all sides, the world was rushing forward into the material world of the second half of the 20thC. In Spain everything was stultified or going backwards.... Read more ›