Oxford Book of English Verse
Between the Woods and the Water, Patrick Leigh Fermor
A Time to Keep Silence, Patrick Leigh Fermor
Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton
The Lighthouse, P.D. James
The Lighthouse was one of the books left in our library by the Dunns, and in a compulsive reading fit I pulled it out of one of the reject boxes. I was wrong. Let me regale you with a few quotes from the cover:
"One of the most compelling books of her remarkable career... A magisterial and subtle exploration of all-too-human emotions." -- The Seattle TimesDoubtless reviewers of books are confronted with a great deal of dreck, in comparison to which even a well-written phone book has its compensations, but I think that the good critics of the Times and the Sun are stretching it a leetle. If this is the height of James' powers, I'm mightily glad I've never read any of her lesser works. Here, a snippet:
"James is at the height of her writing powers." -- The Baltimore Sun
It was only minutes before they were passing over the crinkled blue of the Bristol Channel, and almost at once Combe Island lay beneath them, as unexpectedly as if it had risen from the waves, multicoloured and as sharply defined as a coloured photograph."Clunk.
This kind of book is why I'm glad I don't read any kind of series in which your recurring characters have to layer their own petty personal drama over the story. James, who always opts for the "telling" side of the "Show, don't tell" proscription, lobs her character and story developments with all the precision of a water balloon thrown by my three-year-old, and with as messy results. Every carefully detailed back story is as multicoloured and as sharply defined as a coloured photograph.
Those who can do, write; those who can't, write genre fiction.