11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A children's classic,
This review is from: Smith (Puffin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
I read Garfield's novel as a child in the seventies and found it enchanting. It took me away from 20th century post-industrial Scotland and completely submerged me in the world of 18th century London. Quite an achievement! Ever since I have enjoyed the history of that period and reading 18th century writers such as Fielding.
Strangely 'Smith' has the feel both of the 1700s and of the 1960s in which it was written just as 1963's classic film version of 'Tom Jones' looks sumptuously authentic and yet retains a certain sixties sensibility. These two periods are my particular favourites so that explains much of my enjoyment of Garfield's work but he was also a supremely skilled writer, a painter of worlds using words.
The one star review by 'CJ' posted here misses the point to some extent: Garfield's major skill was in writing beautifully descripitive passages; they are wonderfully evocative and take the reader on a journey through time that is simultaneously charming, convincing and achieved with marvellous deftness. He told a great yarn too but it is his utterly brilliant descriptive passages that enchant. To call it boring misses the point that Garfield has recreated the pace of life in that period. And he does it with such subtlety that some readers may mistake it for a lack of action. After all this was a time when the fastest transport on land was the horse. It is easy for modern readers to forget that the world was not always such a frenetically information-overloaded place and Garfield transports us with amazing skill to a time before all this madness.