Length: 256 pages
About: Separated husband seeks answers in old holiday destination
Style: 3rd person
To escape the death of his son and the death-throes of his marriage, Edwin Fisher retreats - to a place where he had once known the unqualified happiness of childhood. But as painful memories rise
unbidden and uncontrolled, Edwin must confront each in turn and realise that without a past there can be no future.
Light shimmered along the polished pews as the congregation heaved itself to its feet, hailing the Lord's Anointed. Grain arrows waved darkly in the wood under the coating of shellac, the
brightness of elbow-grease. Brass umbrella-holders gleamed, but the metal rectangle to house the name of the pew's occupier had been allowed to blacken in disuse.
Edwin Fisher glanced at his hymn book as he listened to the voice of the woman next to him. 'He comes,' she sang, 'with succour speedy. And bid the weak be strong.' Her voice pierced, and she
enunciated without inhibition so that a boy and girl two rows forward turned round to stare at her. Their mother gently handled them back to propriety.
Fisher hummed, not opening his mouth. The walls of the church stood white, thick, while the narrow, pointed windows were leaded into small diamonds of cleanish glass. Above his head the gallery
stretched, supported on metal pilars in regency blue. Typically, he smiled to himself, the chaste colours of the late eighteenth, early nineteenth centuries applied, not without success, in this
Victorian buidling intended for dark browns and country cream. The women next door lifted her head as sunshine caught the hair of the small boy who, now climbing on to his seat, leaned against his
mother, tried to finger her hymn-book. 'Love, joy, hope, like flowers, Spring in His path to birth
Mr Middleton is unequalled among current novelists for his ability to place people in the social contexts which have made them what they are. He understands the values of ordinary living and
celebrates its value (singular) in an increasingly absorbing way. He could not do it if he were not bringing to bear considerable resources in most areas of he novelist's art.
Times Literary Supplement 19th July 1974
Not so good:
Holiday is one of those books that the enemies of literary fiction often complain about: a novel in which "nothing happens" - or at least, all the action takes place inside the head of a
determinedly average middle-class character.
The Guardian Books Blog, Sam Jordison, 13th March 2008 for full review click
About the author
Stanley Middleton was born in August 1919 in Bulwell, Nottinghamshire. He taught English at a school in Nottingham for many years after graduating from University College Nottingham. His first
novel, A Short Answer was published in 1958. He lived near Nottingham until he died in 2009.