Friday, 6 May 2016

A Month in the Country = J L Carr

England, 1920.  A painting restorer has been employed to uncover a large wall painting in a village church.  Still recovering from WW1, and with a wife who has left him (not for the first time), he takes his summer slowly; unearthing the picture little by little, eating his lunch on the tombstones with another war survivor, an archaelogist who is seeking the tomb of a long dead villager;  and gradually finding himself again.

The pace is slow, the characters wonderfully formed, the feeling of a time long gone - especially on the day of the Sunday school treat when everyone goes by horse and cart to the moors on a picnic - is right there on the page; and everything about this short novel is exquisite.  It is a fine example of one of my favourite kinds of books where "nothing happens, beautifully".   I would read this one again, just for the beauty of the words, but do take the chance to find and read this even if you think beautiful words are just too much (or not enough) for you.  Will he finish the painting?  Will he declare his love for the vicar's wife?  Will he remain in the village when his work is done or go home to another life altogether?  You will find the answers to all of those questions as you read, but take my word for it, it doesn't matter about the answers, it's the words that suck you in, take you there and make you, like him, never want summer to end.