A Garden of Trees by Nicholas Mosley

By Nicholas Mosley

Returning to London from a visit to the West Indies, an aspiring author encounters a bewitching trio of acquaintances whose magic lies of their skill to show any state of affairs into fable. formerly misplaced on the earth, the narrator falls in love with the younger brother-sister pair of Peter and Annabelle, in addition to the older, extra political Marius. truth quickly encroaches upon the foursome, even if, within the type of Marius's ill spouse, forcing the narrator to confront the darkish vacancy and worry on the center of his friends' joie de vivre. during this, his moment novel—written within the '50s and not earlier than published—Nicholas Mosley weighs questions of accountability and sacrifice opposed to these of affection and earthly hope, the spirit as opposed to the flesh.

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Sample text

The most obvious of these is the dynamic of the thriller, which leaves Grace’s fate unclear until the The State and the Novel 35 final page. The other is an extended allusion to Virginia Woolf, in Grace’s planned (and continually deferred) trip to the lighthouse in the seaside town in which she grew up. The storms of 1987 finally intervene, causing her to abandon all notion of the trip. Human destructiveness, this time in the form of the presumed effects of global warming, cuts Gee’s fictional world off from the redeeming symbolism of Woolf.

The ironic associations of the title are caught in the studied closing image, when the three friends witness an arrested sunset, after a summer picnic that approaches a pastoral idyll: The sun is dull with a red radiance. It sinks. Esther, Liz and Alix are silent with attention. The sun hangs in the sky, burning. The earth deepens to a more profound red. The sun bleeds, the earth bleeds. The sun stands still. (p. 396) The stasis of this conclusion embodies a curious ambivalence in which the progression from radiance to an image of blood and suffering is interrupted by the checked sunset.

A good example of the off-beat or quirky breed of political novel that can result from this shift of emphasis is Hilary Mantel’s Every Day is Mother’s Day (1985), which depicts a society in confusion and chaos, beyond the redemption of the welfare state. The novel is a savage black comedy, with its focus on a deranged woman and her handicapped daughter, that represents an oblique approach to questions that assume a social centrality as the novel unfolds. The novel is set in the mid-1970s, but is published a decade later; the mood it reflects, however – the loss of faith in welfare measures – is representative of the public mood throughout the 1980s and beyond.

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