Literary deviation

Foxglove SummerI’d waltzed through Foxglove Summer, the new Ben Aaronovitch — Constable Peter Grant despatched to l’Angleterre profonde.

Ah, now! It is greatly to be hoped that the TV rights (surely the adaptation is inevitable?) on the Rivers of London series fall to the BBC, so the scripting can be doctored by the likes of  Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat.

77ClocksThen, something for the weekend, an older (but to me, latest) Christopher Fowler to come my way: Seventy-Seven Clocks. Ummm, I have to say the Bryant & May mysteries have matured, like last year’s Christmas pud, since that one — the third in the sequence? — waspublished. Anyway, that means all ten of the sequence knocked off. All the notes, but not necessarily in the right order.

What next?

“Always, scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh! Mr. Sansom?”

Well, none too quickly for me.

The latest Shardlake, Lamentation, from CJ Sansom, is another solid chunk of cellulose and hard-back — a nice production to take up shelf-space alongside its predecessors. That was the intended next one off the guilt-pile; and, indeed, I had reached Shardlake channelling his inner Sherlock among the printers of St Paul’s Churchyard.

More on that later, perhaps.

Essaying the Cevennes

FootstepsThen, idly, my hand fell on Richard Holmes (no connection with Sherlock), and his Footsteps, Adventures of a Romantic Biographer from the mid-80s. This had been one of my many lurkers for years now.

I tried a few paragraphs, and was hooked. Shardlake and Sansom may have to wait.

Suddenly I’m with a young Holmes, just eighteen (and therefore the summer of 1964):

After ten years of English boarding schools, brought up by Roman Catholic monks, I was desperate to slip the leash. Free thought, free travel, free love was what I wanted. I suppose a foreign affaire de coeur would have been the best thing of all; and that, in a way was what I got.

Oh, so neatly, so elegantly Holmes integrates a thorough appreciation of RL Stevenson, and close observation of the French landscape, along with delicious vignettes of the people he meets on the way.

Obviously I then looked for my Travels with a Donkey, a nice embossed library edition and the Walter Crane illustration, too. It has gone AWOL.

I shall have to content myself with Holmes in the mad Parisian early summer of 1968, reconciling himself with the parallel experience of Wordsworth in 1790:

Oh! pleasant exercise of hope and joy! 
For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood 
Upon our side, we who were strong in love! 
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, 
But to be young was very heaven!

I’m going to enjoy every page.

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3 Comments

Filed under Ben Aaronovitch, C.J.Sansom, History, leisure travel, Literature

3 responses to “Literary deviation

  1. All ten Books? You’re one behind with another on the horizon, mate! Actually ‘Seventy Seven Clocks’ remains an oddity in the Bryant & May series, written at a time when I wanted to explore every kind of crime fiction. This was a ‘caper’.
    Please don’t anyone let Mark Bleeding Gatiss near Ben’s work – he’s spread altogether too thinly these days…

  2. Pingback: An oaf short of an oeuvre? | Malcolm Redfellow's Home Service

  3. Pingback: Time’s winged chariot | Malcolm Redfellow's Home Service

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