Love Among The Graves Essay, Research Paper
Love among the Gravess Courting Shadows by Jem Poster 278pp, Sceptre & # 8221 ; I had expected castanetss, of class, though non in such abundance. & # 8221 ; As first lines go, it & # 8217 ; s a good 1. Eleven retiring small words, but so seductive, dramatic and drenched with deduction. What bones? And why expected, and why so many? And who is this individual anyhow, so all of a sudden compelled to portion this sinister observation with us? If great gaps are meant to do the reader turn the page, allow & # 8217 ; s merely state I turned it & # 8211 ; and maintain on feverishly turning to the really terminal. Jem Poster & # 8217 ; s first novel is as intelligent, make bolding and profound as it is extremely, captivatingly clear. It & # 8217 ; s the winter of 1880 and John Stannard is a tense immature designer from the states who has come to a distant English small town to supervise the Restoration of its disintegrating church. Knowing, unthreatening, yet disastrously chesty and enormously missing in self-awareness, he finds the little population maddeningly superstitious, unhelpful and backward-looking. They find him viciously missing in consciousness, riotous, hardhearted. In fact, they wish he & # 8217 ; d travel off. The small town & # 8211 ; hapless, honest, tightly knit & # 8211 ; is a topographic point where everyone knows everyone & # 8217 ; s concern. And shortly a great trade is known about Stannard. First, that in unearthing the church & # 8217 ; s foundations, he has uncovered a slightly recent casket and, instead than go forth it respectfully entirely, has had it brought up out of its grave to ease the edifice work. As if that weren & # 8217 ; t ill-considered plenty, when a local adult male is injured while working for him, Stannard is & # 8211 ; despite the despairing intercessions of the local vicar & # 8211 ; uncharitable about ill leave. And so something else: a beautiful local miss decides she wants to acquire to cognize our hero better and starts directing him love letters. Stannard & # 8211 ; edgy, awkward, sexually and emotionally nescient of adult females & # 8211 ; is both drawn and disconcerted. Drawn because Ann Rosewell is beautiful and he & # 8217 ; s lonely, but disconcerted by her evident willingness to make the pursuing. From the start it is she who approaches him proposing they meet, she who dares to take his arm, put her face near to his and state him how she feels, and sends him notes. Is it
because she’s brave or – more worryingly – because she has done it all before? Poster’s meticulous examination of what Stannard finds himself feeling – an all-too-convincing blend of pity, social superiority, attraction and revulsion – is dazzlingly done. “How easily we may be caught off balance,” he observes with rueful self-pity. As if the very act of feeling something – anything – means losing his certain place in the world, his sense of being upright and in control. And, among other things, that’s what this novel is about – loss of control, of faith in the way we see ourselves, in the stories we spin to justify our worst acts. It’s a fantastically tightly written, read-every-word novel – unnervingly shadowy in places, starkly, devastatingly well-lit in others. Every description roots you more firmly in this place of graves and bitter winds, every conversation takes you somewhere more unsettling, every new utterance further muddies the options. Much of it could, you feel, have been written by any author of the period, but not all – and that’s the point. Where Poster’s slow-burning narrative suddenly bursts into flames is when Stannard – not only caught off balance but falling fast – finds himself having sex with Annie on a hillside. Quick, muddy, orgasmic sex – the kind of sex that your Brontes and Collinses could only hint at or dream of. So we hear about the “tender obscenities” and see the “splayed legs” and the “woman supine on her hoisted skirts, her white skin smirched with woodland muck”. Or, as Stannard’s terrified Victorian sensibility immediately coins it: a “sorry tableau illustrating man’s subjection to the flesh”. This is a subtle first-person narrative, told in a bleak past tense, some time after the events described, and in a tone that swings carefully between self-justifying and appalled. As a psychological thriller, it’s as close to wonderful as anything I’ve recently read. But Poster’s biggest achievement is that he creates a young male voice of such unnerving complexity and moral turmoil. Stannard is a stunning creation – awkward, difficult, dangerously self-deluding and, ultimately, someone who moves you to inspect your own damaged soul. · Julie Myerson’s latest novel is Laura Blundy.