on 7 October 2007
After the Whitbread Prize-winning classic, The Chymical Wedding (very highly recommnded, by the way), Lindsay Clarke spent 5 years crafting its follow-up. The result is half the length of its predecessor, yet don't let its brevity fool you: this has all the beauty, power and wisdom we associate with Clarke's work.
It tells the simple story of Ronan and his drive to Cornwall to try and win back his lover. What Chymical Wedding did for East Anglia, this novel does for Cornwall, which becomes a character in its own right. The second half of the novel is a sustained piece of fantasy or magical realist writing (although I'm not sure if the author would be happy with either designation).
And like Chymical Wedding, this novel has stayed with me in a way that few others do. It's a crying shame that it's out of print. Books this good do not deserve to be neglected.
This book is now back in print and I ordered it because of the connections with my home county of Cornwall. I am sorry to say that I just didn't get it - I was out of my comfort zone with this frantic, navel gazing style of writing and although I found it highly charged, it all felt over wrought and bothersome to follow. The descriptive passages are honed to perfection with fluency and phraseology of the highest standards, creating atmosphere so beautifully but to what purpose I wondered. Maybe more of a poem/art work than an involving story. Populated with some pretty crazy and unpleasantly selfish characters to try to pin down. I kept on leaving it and wishing I hadn't got to go on reading. Because I think it sad to leave a purchased book that I'd I had hopes for un read I ploughed on, but it didn't get any easier or more enjoyable. Just a bit too cerebal and fey for this reader but probably I am in the minority in finding it above my head as Lindsay Clarke is well received and highly thought of. Perhaps these books are an acquired taste or an genre that I don't understand.
on 24 October 2013
I read this book when it first came out and deeply admired its translucent poetry. It is, ostensibly, about a very basic human relationship; woman/man. In addition, it says a great deal about womens' relationships with one another and with the past, present and future.
The mediaeval imagery appeals greatly as does the concept of the fragility of reality.
Remembered sentence? "Perhaps something new is trying to happen". Brilliant!