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By John Banville

An early vintage from the guy Booker-prize profitable writer of The Sea.

I am accordingly I think. So begins John Banville’s 1973 novel Birchwood, a singular that facilities round Gabriel Godkin and his go back to his dilapidated kinfolk property. After years away, Gabriel returns to a home packed with thoughts and depression. Delving deep into kinfolk secrets—a chilly father, a tortured mom, an insane grandmother—Gabriel additionally recollects his first encounters with love and loss. instantly a singular of a relations, of isolation, and of a blighted eire, Birchwood is a notable and intricate tale concerning the finish of innocence for one boy and his state, advised within the brilliantly styled prose of 1 of our such a lot crucial writers.

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Extra resources for Birchwood

Example text

Theirs was a curious relationship. Granny Godkin, before she met her, had imagined Beatrice as a tough blue-eyed bitch. What a royal battle there would be! She polished her weapons and waited. That day of the wedding, when she sat staring into the garden, she burned with excitement. The real Beatrice, a gentle creature dazed by her passion for my father, was a bitter disappointment, but, refusing to give up her dreams of flying blood and Jiair, the old woman launched her attack regardless. Mama, mistaking what was expected of her, pretended that things were other than they were, made herself agreeable, replied to what she wanted to hear not what was said, smiled, smiled, and raged in her dreams.

There was a rap upon the door, and expectant whispering outside, and then she was in the hall, hallooing her presence, straightening her son's carroty hair, tipping Nockter for having carried in the bags, all at the same time, all the time talking. She was a small intense young woman, quick as a bird, with short red hair and a pale, pointed face. Mama peered apprehensively out of the drawing room, and Aunt Martha let her coat fall to the floor and clapped her little hands. ’ They made a rush at each other, and smacked together in an awkward embrace.

It might be nice. ’ Granny Godkin shrieked. ’ Cloudshadow swept across the fallow field, and through that gloom a ragged band came marching. There was a young man with a sullen mouth, two strange pale girls, the small boy or dwarf. Were the others there too, those women, grotesque figures? Granny Godkin rose and brandished her stick at them, gobbling in fury and fright. ’ A flock of birds rose above the trees with a wild clatter of wings. Granny Godkin fled, and Mama folded her hands in her lap, and closed her eyes and smiled.

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