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“A skilled and detailed portrait of rural 19th century England. Hobbs immerses the reader in a well-researched discourse and authentic language. The resulting journey into the specific issues faced by a Methodist lay preacher at the turn of the century, reminding the reader of many enduring...”see full review » see other reviews »
“A complete surprise - an impulse buy when browsing in a bookshop last year.
Set in the 1870s in the SW of England, The Short Day Dying tells of Charles Wenworth, a blacksmith and lay preacher who wanders through the countryside delivering sermons to small congregations. Poverty is prevalent and Wenworth wonders at nature on his long walks and finds himself allured by a blind girl called Harriet French who is suffering a serious illness.
This is a short novel, barely 190 pages, but its brevity belies the depth of its effect. Perhaps it takes a few pages to become familiar with the narrative style, but I very quickly found myself being drawn into this other world of quiet and poverty. Though the subject matter was not something that would usually interest me, the author's skill ensured that even after I'd finished reading it, I found myself revisiting scenes and remembering visions from along the way.
Not for those who like fast-paced action but surely Peter Hobbs is an author who should be more widely known. ”
“Written in a style modeled after a 19th century diary written by the author's great-grandfather, The Short Day Dying has a unique voice and a unique story. It reminds me in places of José Saramago, with its stubborn unwillingness to utilize standard punctuation (though whereas with Saramago this is a stylistic decision, with Hobbs it is rather a part of the historical setting and structure), as well as of James Kelman's Kieron Smith, boy in its lilting, often lyrical yet still earthy first person descriptions of everyday life. In terms of plot, Hobbs' novel follows a year in the life of Charles Wenmoth, a young circuit preacher in 19th century Cornwall, as he faces financial, spiritual, and health troubles. Central to the story is Harriet French, a young blind woman who is bedridden and whom Charles frequently visits in the course of his lay preaching work. ”Michael wrote this review Thursday, January 13, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A skilled and detailed portrait of rural 19th century England. Hobbs immerses the reader in a well-researched discourse and authentic language. The resulting journey into the specific issues faced by a Methodist lay preacher at the turn of the century, reminding the reader of many enduring spiritual questions (generally speaking, those related to a wavering of faith) as well as many ecclesiastical questions (generally speaking, those related to a waning of attendance). Slow-paced, not for everyone, but a brilliant acheivement. ”peter_j wrote this review Wednesday, March 19, 2008. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No