20 Jan 2011 – from the publisher (for joining the Virago Reading Group)

I was sent this by the publisher in its lovely new edition; lots of the LibraryThing Virago Group members had been talking about it, and it was Virago Reading Week on a couple of the members’ blogs, so I decided to promote it up Mt TBR for a re-read.  I can’t remember when I first read it, but it was probably quite a long time ago, about the time I was discovering Vera Brittain.  I found that, as is quite common for me, I remembered the feel of the book without recalling the plot.

I’d place this somewhere between two other favourites: George Eliot and Thomas Hardy.  Eliot, for the minute creation of time and place, the detailing of political processes, the web of small town society and range of characters.  Hardy, for the feeling that heavy-footed Fate, full of irony and obscure punishment, crouches in the landscape and in the sweep of history, ready to collect its victims.  Towards the end of the book, events start to feel a bit unremitting.  But it’s written so beautifully, and is such compulsive reading, that you absorb the horror and plunge on towards the end, with its quiet voice of progress and steely resolve.

An excellent read; an even better re-read.