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Friday, August 31, 2007

The past is another country

Even when I've really enjoyed a book, there's still some relief when I get to the end. I immediately want to swap that book's world for another. But when I started reading Patrick Hamilton's novels last year I developed the opposite habit. As soon as one was finished I had to begin another. I think I may be heading for the same thing with Rosamond Lehmann, who was writing about aristocrats and bohos between the wars at about the same time as Hamilton was cruising the pubs of Fitzrovia. Jude recommended I read "The Weather In The Streets", which has been described as a precursor of "Bridget Jones's Diary", but without the calorific value. It's the story of a doomed extra-marital affair conducted across the gulf between the safely rich and the genteel poor. Although it was swept away before even I was born, the vanished world of trips in the motor, darned stockings, gas meters, gin parties, cups of hot bovril, signing the register as Mrs and Mrs Smith, abortionists in morning dress and Salzburg for the festival fairly pings off the page, as does its depiction of the unequal deposits the sexes invest in love. And it's a sequel so now I can read the back story. Can't wait.