The Offing by Benjamin Myers

The Offing

Benjamin Myers

The poetic beauty of this book has stayed with me for a long time. The special relationship which develops between an older woman and a young man is very touching. Nature, transience and the embracing of life are all themes which are explored in such a gentle and subtle way that it is a pure pleasure to read. This is the most enjoyable book I've read for a long time.

It was a close evening and the sky was starting to moil. Clouds clustered and tumbled, eating themselves. The warmth of earlier had grown into a damp, cloying heat and there was a tightening of the air that matched a dull pain down one side of my neck that was threatening to spread into a headache. I stood up and stepped onto my chair to get a better view of the sea, where a foreshadowing curtain was being drawn across the water. Between the low-scudding rain clouds and the sea there was a mottled movement, a shifting shape like a swarm of insects, but which was in fact columns of sea-born rain coalescing and then separating again as they blew in on the cooler winds of the northern continent. It was as if the sea itself were being sucked up skywards.
The rain was many miles out, yet here in the garden it had fallen suddenly still and noticeably silent. No birds were calling. No distant dog barked. The muscle in my neck throbbed with an almost electric pulse.
Butler raised his gaze again.
'They call it the offing,' said Dulcie quietly.
I climbed down from the chair. She gestured down the meadow.
'That distant stretch of sea where sky and water merge. It's called the offing.' ...
The sky rumbled. The dog's ears pricked up: two furry sound mirrors pointed out to sea, tuned to the changing atmosphere.
The first full drops of rain fell then.
Dulcie said, 'Might as well uncork another bottle and watch the show.'

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