Humphreys is a great writer (Nocturne, The Evening Chorus, The Lost Garden). Her new book is fascinating because the first half is a personal account of her writing process: start with an idea, in this case an obituary of a reclusive Scottish woman who was a renowned salmon-fly dresser. Humphreys describes the essential questions: What is the story? Whose Story is it? How are you going to tell the story? The second half of the book is the imagined life of the Scottish woman; very entertaining.
This is a quiet novel about love and loss, regret and contrition, and the aftermath of war. This is Humphreys’ 3rd novel set in WWII (Coventry, and the sublime The Lost Garden): each of them is different and perceptive. Humphreys is becoming one of my favourite authors.
(thanks to Amy/Steph). Really excellent writing; book was read in one setting so clearly I was engaged by the story. The book describes the experience of the author’s life together with her brother, and details after his death. Perhaps I was primed by the [Miriam] Toews AMPS [All My Puny Sorrows] but I have a personal preference for introspective and insightful writing. Humphreys captures the cruelty of disease and the numbness of grief. She writes: fear the worst because the worst has happened” (first Matthew and then Anne).