**spoiler alert** Oh, goodness. What is wrong with me that I didn't love this book?!?! I feel that I ought to go sit in a dark room with no books or m**spoiler alert** Oh, goodness. What is wrong with me that I didn't love this book?!?! I feel that I ought to go sit in a dark room with no books or music or wine or nice snacks. Just wretched rice cakes with no water.
There were lovely, meditative moments. Uncovering the painting. Taking an afternoon off and traipsing about the countryside. The flower on his secret love's hat. What more perfect way to recuperate from the horrors of World War I than to spend a summer in a small village full of friendly characters, another soldier searching for a grave, and a really hot reverend's wife?
I have been fascinated with the world between the World Wars and the mettle of the few returnees. Perhaps, the theme that most touched me in "A Month in the Country" was the ability of nature and time to heal, whether the damage is from the horrific battlefield or an unrelentingly unfaithful wife.
It's interesting that Moon chooses to live in something akin to a foxhole, this casting himself out of society, much like his target, Piers Hebron, who we eventually learn was an outcast because of his religion, perhaps picked up during his time conducting Crusades. Is it really a coincidence that his name is Moon and he finds a crescent moon on the uncovered skeleton? Meanwhile, Birkin chooses to perch above the entire town, also casting himself out, but in a more godlike way.
Also, some characters, like Kathy Ellerbeck (modeled after Carr's sister) really lived and breathed. In fact, that whole family was a treat. From the excellent introduction in the New York Review of Books edition by Michael Holyrod, you learn quite a bit about the polymath author. Knowing more about J. L. Carr certainly gave me more depth to the book.
At the end, it seems that Tom Birkin shies away from happiness (not succumbing to Alice Keach's beseeching talk of apple varietals!!) and what Oxgodby offered him that summer, choosing to return to Vinny's nonsense, which was quite sad. Perhaps, he was so damaged that the familiar was better than the real. He simply did not have enough time to heal before taking off the enfolding bandages of the country and spends the rest of his life chasing what he cannot have. And why can't he have happiness? Because he is cold, disconnected. We never hear from Vinny, but one wonders. Tom doesn't even say goodbye to Kathy, one of his medicines, providing both physical and mental sustenance. He doesn't even hug Alice. ...more
"Dreamers" is a delightful, comedic tale full of colorful characters. At first, I thought that the book was just a sweet little story and the perfect"Dreamers" is a delightful, comedic tale full of colorful characters. At first, I thought that the book was just a sweet little story and the perfect snack for a summer's evening. However, after letting the book marinate in my mind for a few days, it occurs to me that the sudden switches in point of view make the quality of the story more dreamlike.
Near the end of the book, oafish and endearing Ove Rolandsen says: "Summer is the time for dreaming, and then you have to stop. But some people go on dreaming all their lives, and cannot change." There are characters in the book who are of the former stripe (Ove, Elise Mack) and those who are of the latter flavor (Miss van Loos, the curate's wife). Thus, the story suggests that living life instead of always imagining what may be is the path to success.
Despite dreamlike elements, the dialogue crackles with realism over 100 years after original publication and I found myself laughing out loud in several spots....more