Sunday, May 22, 2011
Sidetracked on My Way to the Butcher
The last time I was at the Reuse Centre it was to pick up a lonely copy of Brightness by Elizabeth Jenkins. It really is a deplorable wasteland of garage sale cast-offs with seventies soft rock playing in the background but one man's junk is another man's treasure.
There are stacks and stacks of contemporary fiction but in another area is the tiniest hallway, little more than shoulder to shoulder. Two books stood out and despite leaving them behind on my last visit they've been haunting me so I decided to end it and bring them home. I really enjoyed my last Dickens read of The Winds of Heaven recently reissued by Persephone so it was worth taking a chance and this copy of Flowers on the Grass is extra special as it's a first edition.
"Embracing all levels of society, this is the trouble-laden saga of Daniel Brett, psychologically displaced after the war, unwilling to face any responsibility, and bringing wreck and ravage in his train. With the death of his wife, who was gentling him into home life, he finds refuse in a boarding house where his drunkenness hurts a maid, another lodging where the landlady wakes up to the fact that he is not reliable, on to a tutorship which does not help his epileptic pupil, a job as a teacher where he is almost the cause of, but turns out to be the savior, of a devoted young girl student in the school. It is the hospital, and a neighboring patient who brings him back to a small sense of obligation that makes him bestow undreamed of happiness on a young couple. Stop-watch episodes, this offers a panorama of post-war England and many of its problems...readable if erratic." (Kirkus Reviews)
My American by Stella Gibbons is about to be reissued by Vintage. Despite not being able to find a synopsis anywhere the opening paragraph was inviting enough for me.
"It was autumn, Kenwood House, the eighteenth-century mansion on the edge of Hampstead Heath, had been recently opened to the public by King George the Fifth and its beauties were still sufficiently unfamiliar to attract crowds of Londoners, as well as foreign visitors, to stare at them and admire the collection of pictures inside the building."
During my last trip to London in 2009, I was one of those foreigners visiting Kenwood House. I had walked from the Hampstead tube stop in new shoes and was never so glad to see a bench...I digress. Since there were no reviews to be found on either of these novels I was wondering if anyone has read either of them and can tell me if they enjoyed them or not.