Sunday, 5 April 2009

9. Susan Hill - 'Moving messages' (2003)

This one did not particularly grab me; it starts out with the motif of written lines running through the main character's head, 'like moving messages', in contrast to how music or songs infiltrate the consciousness of many. (Susan Hill, The Boy Who Taught the Beekeeper to Read, 2003, p.123) For me, there is not a great deal done with this conceit within the small word-count. (the pages contain much fewer words than any of the other eight read so far)

Two old friends of sorts, Didi and Velma, meeting up at fifty-four, their acquaintance going back to undergraduate days: 'We had been incongruous, unexpected friends from our first day, without anything but English Literature and twenty-three other students in common.' (p.130) As a fragmentary, slight, slice of life, I can possibly give this its dues, but it just is not what I am looking for especially - a subtlety to the point of inconsequence, almost.

I would love to read some of Hill's novels, however, or the Scarborough-set short, 'Cockles and mussels'; this selection would appear to be fairly routine, but there will be much of interest in her work - perhaps not an innovator, but working within existing styles (revisiting key areas such as WW1 or novels such as Du Maurier's Rebecca, 1938).


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