Isn’t this the most gorgeous cover for a book? Better still in real life, with the hint of gold there in the rich blue.
I took Georgina’s advice about my holiday reading and was delighted I took AS Byatt’s The Children’s Book with me, for not only was it long enough for my ten day cruise, it was also thought provoking enough for an absorbing read. I’ve linked to Dove Grey Reader’s review because it sums up my own thoughts rather better than some of the more carping comments on the Amazon.uk site. I’ll admit that, at times, the laboured details and factual research findings got in the way a little, but such minor irritations are easily forgiven when a story is so beautifully constructed.
I loved reading about that golden generation, the promise of so many opportunities as the world opened up before them. The way that small parallels were drawn between life events and artistic pursuits. As I read further into the book I thought that there was not going to be enough time/space to include the horrors I knew would follow, but I was wrong. The last part of the story has an inevitability to it and yet there are still surprises and it ends with a satisfying conclusion.
Definitely one of those books which is closed with a sigh and a feeling of slight sadness for having finished it.
It was still very much in my mind at the weekend, when old photographs and family stories were very much “on topic”. My parents were part of the wartime generation and though they were both born and brought up in a city, their friends were country people. They socialised with the Young Farmers and a particular bunch usually referred to as “The Moore’s Boys”.
The Moores even had a cricket team who played matches in one of the pastures normally used for the dairy herd – there’s Daddy, front row, first from the left, because though there were quite a few “Boys”, clearly the team needed the support of a few friends as well.
I was used to hearing the familiar names of these friends, even though I really didn’t know many of them personally. Occasionally, I would hear of a surprise meeting – on one occasion, they were delighted to find one of the Moores on the same package holiday as them. But of course, as they got older, their numbers diminished and sadly, by the time Mummy died in 2008, there was just one remaining “boy” who was known to me. Charlie.
The Children’s Book was still in my mind, as I was thinking about the generation of young men and women, including my parents at the Young Farmers dance in the photograph. Fresh from the war, ready to make new lives for themselves, full of hope and energy. As we gathered a few last things together, I was chatting to Auntie Jean about the cricket pitch on the farm and the photographs I’d been looking at.
“Oh, by the way”, she said, “did you know Charlie died?”
Another chapter finished. I sighed and closed the book.