Beard Necessities (Winston Brothers, #7) brazzaville

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The Last September Is Elizabeth Bowen S Portrait Of A Young Woman S Coming Of Age In A Brutalized Time And Place, Where The Ordinariness Of Life Floats Like Music Over The Impending Doom Of HistoryIn , At Their Country Home In County Cork, Sir Richard Naylor And His Wife, Lady Myra, And Their Friends Maintain A Skeptical Attitude Toward The Events Going On Around Them, But Behind The Facade Of Tennis Parties And Army Camp Dances, All Know That The End Is Approaching The End Of British Rule In The South Of Ireland And The Demise Of A Way Of Life That Had Survived For Centuries Their Niece, Lois Farquar, Attempts To Live Her Own Life And Gain Her Own Freedoms From The Very Class That Her Elders Are Vainly Defending The Last September Depicts The Tensions Between Love And The Longing For Freedom, Between Tradition And The Terrifying Prospect Of Independence, Both Political And Spiritual Not a favourite I m afraid If I hadn t read the very excellent Troubles by Farrell last year I might have thoughthighly of this one.The characters didn t resonate with me, they were so self centred and rudderless I read this because of the time period depicted This is a slow, gently unfolding story, no doubt too gently unfolding.Just not my cup of tea. Their life, through which they went forward uncertainly, without the compulsion of tragedy, was a net of small complications Isn t that the perfect definition of ordinary life, lived by ordinary people who have no potential for heroism or martyrdom, but who consider their small complications important enough to care about them and to take necessary action to secure their status quo or to change it, according to need The tragedy of The Last September lies in the fact that the reader knows the characters live at a time and place, the Troubles in Ireland, where ordinary life is a luxury most people can t afford Tragedy is lurking in the shadows, while the tennis parties take place in beautiful mansions and gossip about engagements and love affairs spread like a symbolic fire The characters read the Manns another hint at the fact that their cultural setting is doomed, on the last chapter, ready to sink in the reality of 20th century violence.The tragedy also lies in the lighthearted humour with which small arguments are settled Miss Norton will have to change Hugo, how COULD you let her get so wet My dear, I am not an umbrella As long as that is the worst of concerns, it hardly matters that Lois, the young woman whose budding love story is the centre piece of the plot, is not equipped with much courage There is no need for it But as the calm non action proceeds, so does time, and the clock of history ticks louder and louder The world did not stand still, though the household at Danielstown and the Thompsons lunch party took no account of it Once the tragedy strikes, though, they all immediately know that The Last September will be a dividing line in their lives And they accept the loss with the needed amount of courage, which apparently is only distributed when it is required.There are many such times in my own life that I retrospectively remember as a clear cut with the past Chernobyl in 1986, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, 9 11 in 2001, or Brexit and the US election in 2016 They all have that in common that they broke into my ordinary life and forced me to see the outside world despite my wish for ordinariness and calm Bowen catches this calm life before the storm brilliantly, adding no additional drama to the lives of the characters of the plot, thus making the tension in the reader rise by contrast One feels like an omniscient, yet completely powerless god watching the destruction of a flawed and yet beautiful way of life.Recommended I love to find mention of books within other books So it was that when I recently read The Awkward Age by Henry James, I paid particular attention to a blue covered novel that had one of the characters names inscribed in it I watched as the novel was passed around, influencing the fate of several characters in the process, and rewarding me for paying attention That episode reminded me of other stories in which books within books had moved the plot along A Room with a View, for example, where a red covered novel abandoned in a garden changes the course of the heroine s life A novel gets passed from one character to another in The Last September too, and though there s no name inscribed on it as was the case with the blue covered book in The Awkward Age there is a discussion about such an inscription, which has to be an interesting coincidence However, in spite of that coincidence, I wasn t immediately reminded of The Last September when I was thinking about books that play roles in other books If I reached up to the book shelf the other day, where Elizabeth Bowen is perched between William Trevor and Molly Keane, it was because a character trapped on the threshold of adulthood in The Awkward Age had reminded me of a similar character in Bowen s novel I had only intended to remind myself of the character s name Lois Farquar, as it turns out , but I ended up rereading the novel all the way through And what a pleasure it was, from the opening to the closing sentences I remember liking it when I first read it but I enjoyed it evensecond time round Perhaps reading so much Henry James recently has helped me appreciate Elizabeth Bowen s early twentieth century style better I enjoyed the subtle foreshadowing Behind the trees, pressing in from the open and empty country like an invasion, the orange bright sky crept and smouldered I noted the amount of things that are implied or left unsaid There was to be no opportunity for what he must not say to be rather painfully not said.But I particularly savoured the descriptions Day, still coming in from the fields by the south windows, was stored in the mirrors, in the sheen of the wallpaper In fact Bowen writes as if she s painting a picture or, better still, making a very beautiful film How s this for an opening shot About six o clock the sound of a motor, collected out of the wide country and narrowed under the trees of the avenue, brought the household out in excitement onto the steps Up among the beeches, a thin iron gate twanged the car slid out from a net of shadow, down the slope to the house.As greetings are exchanged with the long awaited visitors, Bowen turns her camera on Lois, standing apart from the rest of the characters In those days, girls wore crisp white skirts and transparent blouses clotted with white flowers ribbons, threaded through with a view to appearance, appeared over their shoulders So that Lois stood at the top of the steps looking cool and fresh she knew how fresh she must look, like other young girls, and clasping her elbows tightly behind her back, tried hard to conceal her embarrassment The dogs came pattering out from the hall and stood beside her above, the vast fa ade of the house stared coldly over its mounting lawnsThe car with the luggage turned and went around the back, deeply scoring the gravel..She wished she could freeze the moment and keep it alwaysBowen has frozen that moment perfectly The crisp white skirt and the muslin blouse will never yellow with age, and future readers will hear again the motor s roar coming through the tunnel of trees, the crunch of those heavy tyres on the gravel Though I ve referenced film and camera angles, I know they are only metaphors The film is playing on the page before our eyes the words are doing the job of the camera And just as in the best movies, the themes of the entire novel are flagged in the opening scene The girl, though on the verge of adulthood, is isolated from the others because she s not yet married, not yet initiated into adult secrets she iscomfortable with the dogs than with the visitors, though she s painfully self conscious and awkward about that verdant verge she s isolated upon And the house, which is as much a main character as Lois herself, has its future outlined in two simple words stared coldly They are a chilly breath from the future this is the last September of Lois s innocence and the last September the house will welcome visitors You ll have to read the book yourself to see how artfully Elizabeth Bowen fills in the story she has sketched in that powerful opening But what about the book within the book, I hear you say What was its significance As was the case with the blue covered novel in the Henry James book I mentioned earlier, the book in this story was relevant to the theme of the innocence of girls of an awkward age Lois s cousin Laurence gives the book, not to Lois, but to asophisticated family friend Alhough he is not much older than Lois, Laurence treats his cousin like a silly child and wouldn t dream of giving her a book that might corrupt her Bowen frequently uses Laurence to contrast the freedoms young men enjoy with the restrictions placed on young women like Lois At the end of September, Laurence will continue his studies at Oxford but, at least at the start of the book, nothing so purposeful awaits Lois she has no university studies to return to, no plans for any future occupation She s adrift Though he isn t present in many scenes in the book, and the point of view mostly belongs to Lois or to certain other characters, Bowen still gives Laurence some great lines, including this little speech which nicely wraps up the themes of this review Last term I dropped a cigarette case into the Cher, from the bridge at Parson s Pleasure It was a gold one, flat and thin and curved, for a not excessive smoker It was from the days when they wore opera cloaksIt was very period, very virginal I called it Henry James The book Laurence didn t give Lois had another significance which I couldn t have guessed until I started reading it Yes, I immediately bought Laurence s book after I d finished The Last September and right now I m a third of the way through it.I ll fill you in on the further significances I discovered when I finish it It s called South Wind and it s by Norman Douglas Later edit I finished South Wind Wow This novel was first published in 1929, one of the classics of literature of the time, and my first experience with Elizabeth Bowen s writing.One of the first things I found interesting was the great care the author took in keeping the story relatively dispassionate throughout In doing so, she reflected the attitudes of the people she wrote about, and the times they lived in.It is Ireland, between the wars a time when England had sent out the Black and Tans with the expressed purpose of keeping law and order in a country experiencing many internal battles History tells us this was a mistake, although who really knows Things did not end well, but it is impossible to say if they would have ended better had Ireland been allowed to sort through their civil wars on their own.This story is about relationships relatives, relatives of relatives, friends and their relatives It is also about a family whose roots are deeply Irish, yet they are part of the aristocracy and possibly the roots of their roots were English.It was fascinating to listen in on their conversations talking at, past, or through each other Sometimes, two people would hold an entire conversation where each is expressing responses to their individual thoughts rather than to the words of other person And there were many of these conversations The hosts, Sir Richard and Lady Naylor, Lois Sir Richard s niece , and Lawrence Lady Naylor s nephew had house guests through the summer and into September.There were parties garden parties, tennis parties, and even dances for the young people where young ladies were hand picked and invited as dance partners for the young subalterns in their own small town of huts and barracks.Everyone, including the militia, seemed to ignore the skirmishes that broke out from time to time For some, it was beneath their notice for others it was a condition they preferred to forget or ignore or to simply carry on regardless of the scuffles and clashes.Despite the tone of this novel and my own attempts to understand everyone s motivations, I found myself caring about these characters and their concerns whether or not they were able to express them directly.I also learnedfrom this novel than I thought I had, and I enjoyed it enough that I look forward to readingof Elizabeth Bowen s writing in the future.