Wednesday, April 01, 2009

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.


Blogger Sarah (tuulenhaiven) said...

Sounds good - I'm putting it straight on my TBR list. I love books set in the English countryside - the mood evoked is always so lovely. Thanks for the review!

5:38 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

I hadn't heard of this novel before, Hedgie, so thanks for the recommendation. Did you by any chance read the NYRB Classics edition of the work? I've greatly enjoyed just about everything I've read by that publishing house so far. Take care.

7:13 AM  
Blogger Hedgie said...

Thanks for stopping by, Sarah and Richard.

Yes, I have the NYRB Classics edition of the book. I've just recently discovered that series and have enjoyed the several volumes that I've gotten from them so far.

8:17 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

I kind of just discovered them, too, Hedgie. Luckily for me, my library seems to have most of their titles. I'll want to buy some of them, though, I'm sure!

9:22 PM  
Blogger Hedgie said...

For those who don't know, NYRB Classics in a series of reprints of significant books published by the New York Review of Books; their website with a complete catalog can be found here.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

This sounds really beautiful. Thanks for the lovely review.

11:23 AM  
Blogger claire said...

This has been on my wishlist since seeing it on many blogs a couple of months ago. I have never read a bad review yet. Now your review adds another positive. This must truly be a wonderful read.

6:42 AM  
Blogger FleurFisher said...

Thank you so much for the review. So enticing. I have the NYRB editiona and I really must read it this summer.

2:51 AM  

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