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Posts Tagged ‘English Classics’

I discovered J.L.Carr’sA Month in the Country‘ recently when I read a quote from it. I got the book a few days back and finished reading it just now.

In ‘A Month in the Country‘, the narrator, Tom Birkin, goes to a village in the English countryside. The time is the summer after the First World War. Birkin has been hired to restore a centuries old wall painting, which has been painted over across the years. In the village, he meets different kinds of people, most of them friendly and warm. He also meets Moon, who has been hired to find a grave of an old ancestor of an important family. Like Birkin, Moon had also been a soldier in the recent war and had gone through some terrible experiences. The two strike an easy friendship. What happens as Birkin uncovers the wall painting, and the experiences he goes through during the summer form the rest of the story.

A Month in the Country‘ is a beautiful love letter to a time gone by, when horses were still used for transport, when there were villages whose residents hadn’t travelled more than a few miles from their home. It is beautiful and charming but also poignant and haunting. It was like reading one of Wordsworth’s poems. It made me remember a French novel I read a few years back called ‘The Lost Estate‘ by Alain-Fournier, which had a very different story, but which was haunting in a similar way. When I read this passage towards the end of the book – “We can ask and ask but we can’t have again what once seemed ours for ever – the way things looked, that church alone in the fields, a bed on a belfry floor, a remembered voice, the touch of a hand, a loved face. They’ve gone and you can only wait for the pain to pass” – I cried.

A Month in the Country‘ is one of my favourite books of the year. I am so happy that I discovered J.L.Carr. He has written eight novels, all of them slim works like this one, one of which is intriguingly titled ‘A Day in Summer‘. I want to read them all.

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite passages from the book.

“Ah, those days…for many years afterwards their happiness haunted me. Sometimes, listening to music, I drift back and nothing has changed. The long end of summer. Day after day of warm weather, voices calling as night came on and lighted windows pricked the darkness and, at day-break, the murmur of corn and the warm smell of fields ripe for harvest. And being young.
If I’d stayed there, would I always have been happy? No, I suppose not. People move away, grow older, die, and the bright belief that there will be another marvellous thing around each corner fades. It is now or never; we must snatch at happiness as it flies.”

Have you read ‘A Month in the Country‘? What do you think about it?

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