From Good Reads:
I have only recently finished reading this book. I heard about on a blog post on Booker Talk some time ago. (Read her review here.) I remember the review appealed to me so I ordered a copy from Abe Books.
From Good Reads description:
Edwin Fisher is on holiday at the English seaside – but this revisiting of childhood haunts is no ordinary holiday. Edwin is seeking to understand the failure of his marriage to Meg, but it turns out that her parents are staying at the same resort – whether by accident or design – and are keen to patch up the relationship. As the past and his enigmatic wife loom larger, deeper truths emerge and the perspective shifts in unexpected ways. This is an extremely subtle story, a consummate portrait of English provincial life told with all Stanley Middleton’s artistry and depth of feeling. It was joint winner of the Booker Prize in 1974. Review quotation: “At first glance, or even at second, Stanley Middleton’s world is easily recognisable…The excellence of art, for Middleton, is an exact vision of real things as they are. And because he is himself so exact an observer, his world at third glance can seem strange and disturbing or newly and brilliantly lit with colour.” (A.S. Byatt).
(From web page Brief Biographies).
The author, Stanley Middleton was British born in 1919 and died in 2009. He attended schools in Nottingham, England. He had a military career during the second World War serving in the Royal Artillery and Army Education Corps.
He wrote many short stories and novels with characters mainly being drawn from the middle classes. He enjoyed studying people whose lives had stopped in a middle of a crisis and analysed how they dealt with it.
He wrote about the complexity of the human characters and this comes through in this book. He didn’t believe novels needed to be intense stories but but he certainly created obstacles in the way of his characters. He then devised ways of getting through the issues he raised.
I have only read this one book by him but would not hesitate to look at others he wrote.
I really enjoyed the writing in this book. I thought it was excellent. There were many times when I felt I was standing beside Edwin as he walked the beaches and chatted to the locals.
The story takes place over one week’s time but it seems a much longer period of time. The story goes back and forth from his early marriage days to current days as the protagonist is struggling with a current separation and ‘where to’ from here.
The characters are not always likeable, especially his wife. I just didn’t see what he saw in her but then as the reading continues the reader understands a physical attraction to her and hope for future changes. Relationships are definitely not straight forward and this book is an excellent example of that.
The interference of his in-laws is aggravating too but many of us married people can understand this happens. Sometimes trying to sort out marriage issues is impossible to do by oneself.
I kept reading because I really wanted to know if all of the issues were going to be resolved satisfactorily. Nothing in this book is tied up neatly.
If a you enjoy a leisurely read where the characters breathe onto the page and you care about them then this book is for you.
This book shared the Booker Prize along with The Conservationist, by Nadine Gordimer in 1974.