Tether's End Paperback – 12 Aug 2013
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About the Author
William Conelly took a Master's in English from UC, Santa Barbara. Since then he's held various jobs in sales, transport services and commercial writing while bringing a hundred or so poems to print in the US and International marketplaces. In 2000, he began a late teaching career, most recently with the Open Studies Program at Warwick University in UK. Currently he edits and tutors freelance while pursuing his own writing projects. He is married with three grown sons.
Top customer reviews
As a character, Martin passes the believability test, although he is a strange child with volatile emotions. Through his eyes, rendered exquisitely, we view his home for the summer, the beach next to Swenson Pond, and meet the locals: an ageing conservative couple and their granddaughter Suzy, who live across the lake at Castle Campion. Martin's uncle Chick, with whom he is staying while his parents holiday alone, uses Tether's End as a summer retreat away from the bustle of Boston. Almost inevitably, tensions arise between town and country; indigents and newcomers; young and old.
It is not until Chick's friend Simon arrives that the question of sexuality arises - Simon is apparently more than just a business partner. Moreover, he has brought a friend: a nineteen-year-old lad from the Czech Republic who, aside from strong religious opinions, wears pointed boots; within a few paragraphs, the foreigner strips these off, along with the rest of his clothes, and displays his hairless figure. Martin's bewilderment is touching, a result of his youth and the culture clash combined.
At Castle Campion, the Czech meets strong disapproval. Martin's young friend Suzy takes a violent dislike to him, perhaps feeding off her grandparents' latent hostilities, and the fallout produces the climax of the novel, the threat of lawsuits, and Simon's departure. It is a sequence of events motivated by outdated attitudes towards gender and faith, and if it were not for the occasional references to the internet, the modern metropolitan reader might suppose that the story was set fifty years ago.
As a Brit, one of the most noticeable stylistic aspects is Connelly's turn of phrase, which in places approaches a distinct dialect. Martin is `sinister afraid of stepping on a lobster,' and when he is writing to his parents, the table makes `single paper sheets pure trickery to write on'. Having adjusted to Connelly's style of prose, I noticed memorable images, such as grape juice which tastes `like a gymnasium sock in sulphur cough syrup'.
The second half of the book is undoubtedly the stronger, and if the central issues of sexuality were broached earlier, there might be more room to explore the questions raised: are children really influenced by the sexuality of the adults who bring them up? ...and if they are, does it matter? Yet, Martin's long summer at Tether's End still creates a sense of place and bearing strong enough, that perhaps, from the interactions of the friends across Swenson Pond, we can better understand the less visible lives of our own friends in rural Maine, across that somewhat larger pond, the Atlantic Ocean.
Conelly's prose captures the same quality of mood and light as the artists paintings, the bare board lath planking warm from long summer days felt against the children's bare wet feet.
He has created a tale rich in a pleasing melancholy as the boy is compelled to move on to an older plane of experience.
I am looking forward to re reading on my next holiday.Tartan Clash (Violent Affray Book 1)
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