Posted 20 hours ago


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This is a sad tale set in the middle of the 20th Century that’s distanced now so as to be a historical novel.

She does look back (from a good life as a librarian but without family of close associations) and think very tenderly of him -- she tries not to remember their times together too often lest she wear the memories too thin -- and credits him with her ability to see a life with music, art, etc.The lighthouse setting was inspired by the one that Sir Peter Scott lived in for a while and where he set up his first bird sanctuary. It is Philip who teaches and educates her about birds, the arts, poetry, culture and more, a pivotal time of change that will open up opportunities that would otherwise never have been open to her. I didn't see how the message of that daily, thoughtful, caring/caregiving love was reflected in her life.

No, after Bethnal Green with its crabbed back-to-backs, its soot-blackened tenements, bustling markets and noisy pubs, I could never have dreamt that such a place existed. I also feel as though the setting was very descriptive/specific, to the point where it could lose someone who's unfamiliar with the whereabouts of cities or places in England. Philip is a sensitive human being, a conscientious objector who left Oxford after having a nervous breakdown and now works for a local farmer.Her luck of the draw is a cold, sometimes cruel, family who see her not as a child but as a house worker and stipend. This is a lovely study of two lonely, struggling people, of life in a lonely but ruggedly beautiful place that offers glimpses of that beauty to those who seek it and are open to it. I don't know if the somnambulant style was supposed to mimic the waterscape of this part of the world, but it seemed to work, and I really felt the halfway mark a reasonable place to leave this. Finally, there was a sense of a "crush" that she had on the painter (would not be shocking in a just turned 13 year old and he certainly never acknowledged it.

The relationship between Philip and Freda feels slight and underdeveloped, given its significance for both their later lives.Here the action moves from Essex to the sprawling wilderness of the Fens around Kings Lynn, and jumps in time between 87-year old Freda, now in her London care home, and reminiscences of her 12-year-old self, evacuated to Lincolnshire during the Second World War. Slightly Foxed brings back forgotten voices through its Slightly Foxed and Plain Foxed Editions, a series of beautifully produced little pocket hardback reissues of classic memoirs, all of them absorbing and highly individual. So we're told the nature of the ghost in the pub next to the coffee room he goes to once, despite none of this having any bearing on things.

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