by A L Barker

This collection of stories has superbly crafted characters ranging from a young boy with a passion for swimming alone in the local river to a middle-aged woman trapped in a loveless marriage. The writing has a depth of quality reminiscent of D H Lawrence - I will certainly read more by this author.


From Novelette

During those days in France all the forests of the world were big with guns, the sky was a bombers' sky and Nature, abhorring the vacuum in William, thrust on him violent emotions of fear, cupidity and horror. He had no option but to receive them, he was like soft new wax and the fierce impress went deep. He found that the beast in others was also in himself and was afflicted with merciless disgust. He could get no peace; to and fro in his poor head went strenuous thoughts, clumsy fancies, raw dangerous notions with a bitterness and disruption unknown to the William of a year ago.

In that year he had seen men wither like grass, the bundled bedclothes and bits of furniture creeping along in the sun; so many faces confronted with an avalanche of falling nations. He had seen too much in too short a time. Some fatal flaw denied him protective hardening and he could not toughen on what he saw. The reverse happened. The boy's brutality broke down, even that necessitous indifference which the most sensitive must cultivate, even that failed him. At a stroke, William became shatteringly aware. The lad who would not scruple a year ago, goodnaturedly to kick and clout when it suited him, who delighted in bayonet practice, who could never give more than a cuss of pity, suffered now from the very consciousness of suffering. At heart was nothing left of the old William.


The Return of the Soldier by Melvyn Bragg
Collected Stories by D H Lawrence
The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller

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