It Was the Nightingale
The tenth volume of
A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight
. After only a year of married happiness, Phillip Maddison experiences tragedy when his young wife dies in childbirth. Left with a baby son, a cat, a dog and an otter cub they had rescued while on holiday in France, Phillip must learn to endure the deepest grief. When the otter goes missing Phillip dedicates his life to searching for her along the riverways and upon the moors of the West Country, in the hope that the retrieval of her will grant him a new start in life. And on the day when the search culminates such a prospect opens before him: farming the land which he first knew in boyhood.
A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight is an epic comprising fifteen volumes. Although it should be much better known, it has attracted high praise most especially from George D. Painter (the biographer of Proust) and John Middleton Murry:
'Here is an unrolling map of the labyrinth of three generations, our fathers, ourselves and our children, and the thread leading to the mystery - monster or divinity? - at the centre. In my belief ... the whole cycle will ultimately be recognised as the great historical novel of our time, its subject as the total experience of twentieth-century man.' George D. Painter
'This will be in its entirety one of the most remarkable English novels of our time ... It is amazingly rich in all the living detail of a swiftly changing society; the characters are drawn with such loving sympathy and such firmness of imaginative outline that we are entirely absorbed by their vicissitudes. We are apprehensive for them, we are relieved; we rejoice and are sorrowful; we are angry and we understand and we laugh and laugh again. To be able to do this with us is the novelist's supreme gift ... I believe it is high time we awoke to the splendour and scope of his effort and achievement in A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight . Begin with the Dark Lantern and read on; you will be the richer for it.' John Middleton Murry
The entire fifteen-volume sequence is being reissued in Faber Finds.
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