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Exquisitely Crafted Novella,
This review is from: A Month in the Country (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Sometimes it is good to revisit a favourite novel or to watch again a film that always brings you pleasure.
J. L. Carr's exquisitely written novella A Month in the Country was first brought to my attention in 1987 when I saw the film adaptation at the cinema in London. The film affected me so profoundly that I went out the following day to buy the book and what immediately struck me was the fact that there were only one hundred and five pages to it. The concise nature of this story does not reflect upon the depth of the prose and, in fact, the author imbues every line with description and dialogue so wonderfully rich that the length of the work is irrelevant.
The book is rich with characters and atmosphere. There is a gentle, bucolic peacefulness and a kind of restrained beauty as the idyllic summer unfolds. But it is the final scene (both in the film and the novel, although they are treated differently) that never fails to take my breath away.
Carr writes: `We can ask and ask but we can't have again what once seemed ours forever - the way things looked, that church alone in the fields, a bed on a belfry floor, a remembered voice, a loved face. They've gone and you can only wait for the pain to pass. All this happened so long ago. And I never returned, never wrote, never met anyone who might have given me news of Oxgodby. So, in memory, it stays as I left it, a sealed room furnished by the past, airless, still, ink long dry on a put-down pen. But this was something I knew nothing of as I lifted the loop and set off across the meadow.'
This passage never fails to tug at my heart; the acknowledgement that there are certain moments in time that have passed and will never again be recaptured. It is one of the very few pieces of fiction that never fails to blur my vision by the final line and, for one so cynical, that is no mean feat.
If you have never read this spellbinding analysis of love and art then I suggest you buy a copy immediately. This beautifully crafted and understated story of ordinary people, places and experiences is a treasure to be revisited time and time again.