Friday, 18 November 2011

A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY by J. L. Carr

I read this thirty odd years ago and it was wonderful. It is even more wonderful now. A masterpiece in fact. In a hundred pages all the big themes are touched on - the Great War, religion, sex, friendship, art - but what the book is chiefly about is the power of nostalgia. It takes nostalgia seriously. Written from the point of view of an old man writing about his youth, it reflects on what I'm afraid I want to call the 'tristesse du bonheur' - the sadness of happiness - happiness's preciousness and rarity, which goes some way to explaining the bittersweet nature of nostalgia. It is also a love story, with a McEwan-like 'moment' at the end on which all turns. I'm afraid I have to add this to my books of the year. I'm very much hoping that the next book I read will not be a masterpiece or that I'll take too long to finish it if it is.

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