[A Month in the Country] E–pub Æ J.L. Carr

H Handbags and Gladrags for thanive centuries Thomas Birkin never envisioned being haunted by happiness ifty years after a life altering moment that presented itself wrapped in balustrades of washed out color And there was no way I could have known the heart wrenching journey to the past that awaited me in barely a hundred pages Do we glorify the past in order to cope with the "present as a orm of "Self Protection I Suppose We Do But If Giving Way " protection I suppose we do But if giving way nostalgic reverie allows us "as a orm of self protection I suppose we do But if giving way to nostalgic reverie allows us to regret missed opportunites that choke us in waves of self pity and prompts us to be grateful Wish Upon a Wedding for small streaks ofortune instead I will settle on melancholy any given day Only then the tugging at the heart or moments gone or good might leave a sweet lingering taste in our lips like the promise of an unsealed kiss of not suandered words that might last the span of a lifetime What does it take to be happy First of all it takes tranuility And so often the happiest days of our life are those when nothing crucial happenedSo a month in the country was a real treat to the protagonist and A Month in the Country is a real treat to a readerWell we all see things with different eyes and it gets you nowhere hoping that even one in a thousand will see things your wayThe novel is also a deepest contemplation on the nature of art and history and the harmony of lifeWe can ask and ask but we can t have again what once seemed ours Renovations: A Father and Son Rebuild a House and Rediscover Each Other for ever the way things looked that church alone in theields a bed on a belfry Richard Nixon: The Life floor a remembered voice a lovedace They ve gone and you can only wait I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo! for the pain to passHuman kindness is the best cureor loneliness and melancholy When we pick up a book by an author we haven t read before we have only the vaguest notion of what themes it will contain We don t know how those themes will be treated what attention to detail we will ind or if the language will delight us or otherwise Before we turn over that irst page it is all as blank as a whitewashed wall We may bring expectations to the blank piece of wall expectations based on the period the book is set in or Puppet Master from the opinions of readers we trust but any clarity on the book s contents will remain largely hidden Sometimes our expectations are rewarded right at the beginning On theirst page of this book I Swoon: The Heartthrob Activity Book for Good Color-Inners as Well as Beginners found myself tumbling onto the platform of Oxgodby station alongside the narrator and the way in which thoseirst words were assembled announced clearly that this was going to be an especially rewarding read I didn t uite know how the author would manage this eat but I was confident it would turn out to be so And although it was a slow reveal within the irst ew pages I saw many signs of promise a little brush stroke here so that a particular character came into better ocus a little sketch there so that I gained a clearer idea of the background a little oreshadowing so that I could make a stab at guessing the main theme a little mystery so that I knew there remained riches yet to be discoveredAs I read on my irst impressions took definite shape and I was able to admire the craft with which the story unfolded I understood why the author lingered on such and such an idea why he mentioned that particular subject than once As the pages read became greater than the pages left to read I was able to guess at pretty much everything that remained to be told except or one or two details but I still delighted in the manner of the telling and the little traces of humour inserted in the text like private jokes between the author and the narrator It was clear to me too that there was no editorial interference Carr shaped this book to it the pattern and timing of the central theme and without any thought or the dictates of the publishing world or any particular genre it might be expected to it into He was a master of his craftThe book was a treasure that was slowly uncovered when it was ully exposed I was astounded by the beauty of the work in its entirety and the image it left on my consciousness will remain with me or a long time to come JL Carr I salute you You were a true artist. Mer uncovering a huge medieval wall painting in the village church of Oxgodby Joined by another veteran employed to look or a grave outside the churchyard he uncovers old secrets that bear on his experiences of confli. PlingsBirkin considers odd couples than once especially Keach and Alice and how utterly different they are at home compared with elsewhere He utterly different they are at home compared with elsewhere He Moon are a very different pair not a couple both are ex army spending the summer unded by a beuest Spanish Dagger (China Bayles, from Miss Hebron in Moon s case he has toind the missing grave of an ancestor But Moon lives in a hole while Birkin lives up a ladder in the belfry There are other pairs and opposites not just human including church and chapel town and country There s also a woman proffering apples to a man in the church You can t get Old Testament than thatDark and LightThis story is infused with summer sun Ah those days Everyday life in medieval times for many years afterwards their happiness haunted me Haunted Yes because sunlight creates shadows And horror is dark all along Birkin survived Passchendaele but was left with a stammer not reflected in dialogue intermittentacial palsy on one side and no wife There is North forbidden love of at least two kinds coddling it up in myself missed opportunities and a casual revelation by a third party thatorever affects a riendship I m not uite sure what message Carr intended with the last of those "view spoilerBirkin learns that Moon was dishonourably discharged or homosexuality He says he doesn t mind but rom "spoilerBirkin learns that Moon was dishonourably discharged or homosexuality He says he doesn t mind but Andrew Lost In the Kitchen from time on things were never uite the same between us hide spoiler If I d stayed there would I always have been happy No I suppose not People move away grow older die and the bright belief that there will be another marvelous thing around each cornerades It is now or never we must snatch at happiness as it lies Do we recognize happiness when we live it Or is it a condition we only perceive in retrospection remembering the past through the rose tinted glasses of memoryWales 1978 Thomas Birkin a survivor of the Great War travels back in time to the 1920s and reconstructs a month spent in the rural village of Oxgodby North Yorkshire Employed to recover a concealed medieval painting on the wall of the local church Thomas believes that a change of scenery will soothe the scars the bloodbath of war and a shattered marriage have imprinted on him Regardless of his skeptical attitude towards religion the placid rhythm of summer days ripened by the sun and the uaint temperament of some of the townspeople will guide him inadvertently not only to uncover the mysteries surrounding the mural painting but also towards his spiritual restoration This is what I need I thought a new start and afterwards maybe I won t be a casualty any Thomas is a product of his generation Gifted with excessive self awareness uncommon lucidity and a rare sense of humor he speaks rom the intimacy of a Nope first person narrator and makes the reader a sensory participant of the impact aew weeks spent among strangers in self effacing examination of how a tiny parcel of his history infused him with a renewed zest Rejected Rejected Rejected for life JL Carr s masterstroke is to tinge the mural of Thomas chronicle with a gossamer of vivid observations that sparkle the oldlame of hope which glows brighter than ever when Alice Keach the Minister s wife pierces through Thomas numbness with her curious vitality The world unfolds in a palette of intricate details delightful snapshots of daily postcards A blooming rose in a hat the comfortable dampness of concentrated craft under the roof timbers the buzz of insects and the twittering of birds and blades of grass swaying with the gentle breeze passers by that matter and others that don t leave track silent conversations with the Moon the lazy hours of a summer inexorably crawling towards "a perennial exuberance the intoxicating scent of serendipitous Listening: The Last Poems of Margaret Avison friendship of wistful love sweetleeting unattainable of wanting to "perennial exuberance the intoxicating scent of serendipitous Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life in and Out of Jazz friendship of wistful love sweetleeting unattainable of wanting to the shape of an oval Buck: A Memoir face before it is too late the devastating certainty of knowing it is goneorever To Oh, the Things They Invented!: All About Great Inventors feel pain means to be alive and the resolution to pursue happiness is a courageous vow that Thomas is willing to take Theallen man of the mural painting couldn t have imagined that a Yikes, Vikings! (Canadian Flyer Adventures Series fellow artist would recover his masterpiece lost to the world under whitewas. Ped define their generation while today each is considered a landmark work of storytelling JL Carr's A Month in the Country wasirst published in 1980 Tom Birkin a damaged survivor of World War One is spending the sum. But then inevitably as happens to most of us irst through Saturday umpiring later Sunday chapel I was drawn into the changing picture of Oxgodby itself But oddly what happened outside was like a dream It was inside the still church before its reappearing picture that was real I drifted across the rest As I have said like a dream For a timeTom Birken is summoned to the countryside Searching for Robert Johnson from the teaming streets of London to practice his cra Tom Birkin is hired to reveal and restore a Medieval church mural covered up overour hundred years earlier Expertly peeling back the layers of lime and grime what he Blood on Silk finds on the walls is unexpected in subject and uality What he learns about people especially himself is unexpected too the process of restoration is personally restorative Don t let the bland cover or blurb lead you to think this is just the charming story of the healing effect of a bucolic month in a uiet village It is that But it s much JL Carr elegantly sueezes great breadth and depth in a mere 102 pages mystery love tragedy humour sociological analysis lost opportunitiesriendship art and general beauty It s a nuanced mix that deftly weaves a Buzz: A Graphic Reality Check for Teens Dealing With Drugs and Alcohol few dark undercurrents in a rural idyll How in 1920 a penniless survivor of shell shock whose wife has goneinds peace and contentment in the ordinaryYes it describes a single month with little backstory even less afterstory and not much happening but Birkin emerges Honoring the Medicine: The Essential Guide to Native American Healing from Oxgodby changedor the better and so did I a little Picture Entrance to a country church of my childhood Angela Davison Enemy Country That s the phrase the war veteran thinks of when he arrives in the small poor Yorkshire village that is starveling country He plans to live simply and be happy so that afterwards maybe I won t be a casualty any He believes in hope and the locals are interested interesting and By the Lake of Sleeping Children friendly The steady rhythm of living and working aoot in both present and past uickly infuses contentment Birkin is not the only outsider There s the grumpy vicar Keach who resents the disruption caused by the restoration his very young and beautiful wife Alice and Bill Carey Rides West/The Town No Guns Could Tame/Bowdrie Rides a Coyote Trail finally Charles Moon Allour are 30 or younger though Keach in particular seems olderLove the CountryBirkin a Londoner discovers a visceral empathy with and appreciation of nature and the countryside Erano guerrieri from his veryirst morning The rain had ceased and dew glittered on the graveyard grass gossamer drifted down air currents And as it lightened a vast and magnificent landscape Unfolded He Loves Letting The Summer Soak He loves letting the summer soak me by eating outside and soon Moral Disorder and Other Stories feels part of the landscape Those long warm days went on in majestic succession The Vale was heavy with leaves motionless in the early morning black caves of shadow in the midday heat blurring the sound of trains hammering north and south Love of Detail and WorkmanshipBirkin s artistic sensitivity and training make him an excellent describer ofurniture machines architecture and even people and the broader context of ancient lives "A Single Immense Piece "single immense piece Sallies of the Mind furniture like an internal buttress In any ordinary room it would have been grotesue but here itell into perfect scale I ve no idea what it was It could have been a Baroue altar piece an oriental throne a gigantic examination exercise performed by a cabinet maker s apprentice When he realises the ull wonder of what he s revealing Birkin slows down like a reader who doesn t want to inish a brilliant book He becomes Like a greedy child who hoards the best chocolates in the box Each day I used to avoid taking in the whole by giving exaggerate attention to the particular I love Carr s attention to detail and workmanshipMedieval Murals Two demons with delicately Gumbo: A Celebration of African American Writing furred legs clutched him one snapping his right wrist whilst his mate split him with shears That description reminded me of some of the grisly medieval Romanesue religious art in the Museu Nacional d Art de Catalunya including these I photographed aew years agoPicture Detail of Apse of Santa Maria d neu merely intriguingAndPicture Altar rontal rom Avi positively horrificOdd Cou. Penguin Decades bring you the novels that helped shape modern Britain When they were published some were bestsellers some were considered scandalous and others were simply misunderstood All represent their time and hel. A Month in the Country