Exquisite Words

Posted on May 23, 2011 by

This fragment’s from Jo Walton’s Farthing.

All the same, there was enough of the Northerner left in him to distrust the Hampshire countryside that was doing its best to beguile him. The trees, so much more frequent and so much broader here than on his native moor, were in fullest leaf and cast a delightful shade. Beneath them spread as solid a carpet of bluebells as he had ever seen, sending their scent drifting into the car as he was driven on past them. The sun was shining from a deep blue sky, as it rarely shone on Lancashire, the fields were ploughed and planted, and the hay was already high, the grass was a verdant green, and the birds were singing. As if this wasn’t enough, every few miles the road wound its way through a little village with a church, a pub, a post office, thatched cottages, and just sufficient individuality to tell it from the last one.

What I like about it is that she uses the narrator’s point of view to inject a bit of attitude into the picture-postcard description. On the one hand it’s a lovely, bucolic bit of scenery, and on the other we see the way that gets up this character’s nose. It holds a mirror up to him, you might say, but in an interesting way.

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