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160 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1980
Well, we all see things with different eyes, and it gets you nowhere hoping that even one in a thousand will see things your way.
We can ask and ask but we can't have again what once seemed ours for ever – the way things looked, that church alone in the fields, a bed on a belfry floor, a remembered voice, a loved face. They've gone and you can only wait for the pain to pass.
"Carr died in 1994 and his funeral service in the Kettering parish church was, in the words of Byron Rogers, 'like the passing of a spymaster.' He had such disparate interests that there seem to have been many J. L. Carrs, and since he compartmentalized his friendships, few of his friends knew each other. 'What I remember most about his funeral service was the fidgeting...as the mourners kept squinting sideways to speculate about their neighbors,' Rogers wrote. 'Then, at the very last minute there was a clatter of high heels and a very young, very beautiful woman came in, dressed in fashionable black. She came alone and at the end was gone, just as abruptly, into the March afternoon.' No one knew her or could find out who she was--an ex-pupil, mistress, cricketer, flower-arranger, Sunday School teacher...but readers of A Month in the Country may feel that she had stepped out of its pages.
She lived at a farmhouse gable end to the road--not a big place. Deep red hollyhocks pressed against the limestone wall and velvet butterflies flopped lazily from flower to flower. It was Tennyson weather, drowsy, warm, unnaturally still. Her father and mother made me very welcome, both declaring they'd never met a Londoner before. They gave me what, in these parts, was called a knife-and-fork "do," a ham off the hook, a deep apple pie, and scalding tea. In conversation it came out that I'd been Over There (as they called it) and this spurred them to thrust more prodigious helpings upon me.
We can ask and ask but we can't have again what once seemed ours for ever--the ways things looked, that church alone in the fields, a bed on a belfry floor, a remembered voice, the touch of a hand, a loved face. They've gone and you can only wait for the pain to pass.
my idea was to write an easy-going story, a rural idyll along the lines of Thomas Hardy’s Under the Greenwood Tree. And … I wanted its narrator to look back regretfully across forty or fifty years but, recalling a time irrecoverably lost, still feel a tug at the heart.
Ah, those days … for many years afterwards their happiness haunted me. Sometimes, listening to music, I drift back and nothing has changed. The long end of summer. Day after day of warm weather, voices calling as night came on and lighted windows pricked the darkness and, at day-break, the murmer of corn and the warm smell of fields ripe for harvest. And being young.No, the story is not complicated. But neither is it shallow. There is a depth to Birkin, of course - he is a man of emotional, psychological, intellectual, and artistic interest, and is revealed to be affected deeply by both people and setting in all these facets of his nature. The supporting actors too (mostly) are not simply rural caricatures; they are more than just sketches, quickly becoming real people who demand our attention and tug at our sensibilities.
Ah, those days...for many years afterwards their happiness haunted me. Sometimes, listening to music, I drift back and nothing has changed. The long end of summer. Day after day of warm weather, voices calling as night came on and lighted windows pricked the darkness and, at day-break, the murmur of corn and the warm smell of fields ripe for harvest. And being young.
If I'd stayed there, would I always have been happy? No, I suppose not. People move away, grow older, die, and the bright belief that there will be another marvelous thing around each corner fades. It is now or never; we must snatch at happiness as it flies. A Month in the Country, J.L. Carr