This is a quieter book than most of Atkinson’s. It’s a spy story that slowly unveils deeper and deeper levels. The book begins and ends with brief chapters as Juliet Armstrong is dying. Then Atkinson moves, as she always can, deftly to sections of the story in 1940 and 1950. Atkinson can shift from scene to scene in the space of a sentence. In 1940, Juliet is hired as a “girl” to be in a secretarial role with MI5, where she has to transcribe the meetings of a cell of fascist sympathizing fifth-columnists organized by an MI5 agent. She is soon sent undercover to infiltrate the Right Club led by the formidable Mrs. Scaife. For much of the novel, it seems this is all Juliet has been up to. It is a very English novel of ordinary men and women drably functioning in a grey world. Juliet mixes with the upper-classes among her bosses in the service, among the fascists and among her fellow secretaries.
Without fanfare, but just quietly moving us on, Atkinson reveals that there is so much more going on for Juliet and for the war effort, and hints that nothing ever quite ends, just from time to time, one after another, someone drops out or dies.
I thought I was disappointed in this, but now it may not be Atkinson at her most exciting, but it is this author at the top of her game.
Something makes me trust GS, and now I want to read: Things I already wanted to read; Moonglow, Swing Time,The Attention Merchants, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and things I now want to read: Good Clean Fun (Nick Offerman), Words Without Music (Philip Glass), Resurrection (Tolstoy), and a slew of short stories.
I love that what most moves him are “depictions of goodness that are not fraudulent or sentimental.”
C .D. Wright, Language poet; C.D. Wright, elliptical poet; C.D. Wright, poet of the Ozarks, of Arkansas, erotic poet, poet of conscience, of place, of reportage, ekphrastic poet, elegiac poet. Poetry is the weird one: funny-looking on the page, resolutely non-commercial, refusing the neat thesis or linear narrative, and those of us who practice it often find ourselves in a defensive, explanatory crouch in the face of the question “So, what kind of poetry do you write?” As often, we acquiesce, labeling ourselves by school or influence either out of guilt for having introduced the awkward subject in the first place with our presence or because the stage, by its smallness, invites division. C. D. Wright, whom we lost suddenly and much too soon just over a week ago, never succumbed to this pressure. As she wrote in her National Book Critic’s Circle Award-winning One With Others, a book-length telling of Wright’s friend “V’s” participation in the 1969 Arkansas March Against Fear and the repercussions of that act, “[Where was it you wanted to bury this hatchet. Your land or mine.]”
Peter Dickinson the author of around 60 books, has died at the age of 88. He is a children’s book author, fantasist and mystery writer.
I read The Changes years ago, and then later on read Eva, AK and Tulku, before discovering some of his adult mysteries. He has such a fluent imagination. HE’s one of those writers who keeps working year after year, and none of the books I have read have not been worth reading.
Did you know that one of the greatest writers of the last fifty years has just died? No, I don’t mean Henning Mankell. I’m referring to the Irish playwright Brian Friel. Friel is best known in this country for Translations (1980), which has become a perennial favourite on ‘A’-level courses, and for Dancing at Lughnasa (1990), his most frequently performed play, which was made into a film starring Meryl Streep. These plays fully deserve their reputation but Friel’s oeuvre includes a number of other masterpieces, includingPhiladelphia, Here I Come! (1964), The Freedom of the City (1973), Faith Healer (1979),Aristocrats (1979), Making History (1988) and Molly Sweeney (1994).
I am very proud to re-post this by my cousin, Alexei Warshawksi–also proud that he is an English Major at U. of Warwick.
“There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.” And with these words to his wife, Guy Montag begins to realise for the first time that perhaps he should trust the evidence of his own eyes over the processed ‘facts’ fed to him by the media and his superiors… Read on