A bit black




One of the benefits of gossiping with other readers:  I would never have picked this out but it was put into my hand.  Within two pages I was intrigued and pursued it to finis in one prolonged gollop.

The novel is set in a farming community in a remote bit of the Welsh Marches, the story commencing in the first years of the 20th century,  with a passing hint that Chatwin is aiming to be a modern Hardy with the manipulations turned down.  We follow the generations and connections at one farm, the central characters being a pair of identical twins whose relationship we follow from birth to old age.  It was compelling, comic and poignant by turns.

One of the Joneses is an Amos, and there are a few moments when the tale verges perilously close to Cold Comfort (” – we’m violent folk, we Starkadders.  Some on us pushes others down wells.  Some on us dies in childerbirth.  There’s others as die o’ drink or goes mad.”)  I was unable to decide if this was a misfortune or a silent tribute.

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