OTC 2: "A Month in the Country" -- England
My second book for the Orbis Terrarum Challenge is A Month in the Country by J. L. Carr (England) published in 1980.
In the late summer of 1920, Tom Birkin has come to the small Yorkshire village of Oxgodby in order to restore a recently discovered 500 year old mural in the local parish church. Suffering from the aftereffects of combat in World War I (what today would be called "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder") as well as from his wife's desertion (she's run off with someone else), Birkin surprisingly finds that his state of depression is being lifted by what he encounters there: the beautiful late-summer countryside, the various people he gets to know, and most of all by the remarkable masterpiece he is gradually uncovering and by the unknown medieval artist who created it. When, after a few weeks, his work is completed, his attitude has dramatically changed, and he looks on this experience as one of the most profoundly moving of his life. As the story is narrated by Birkin himself some 50 years after the experience, we come to realize just how precious but also how fragile such moments are in life.
This short novel (it's only 135 pages long) is a beautifully-written evocation of one of those rare moments in a person's life that stand out as among the most deeply moving and memorable of one's experiences. I cannot recommend this work too highly.