A captivating and beautiful novel with poetry in its heart
This beautiful and impressive debut novel by accomplished poet Polly Clark opens with two concurrent strands.
Strand one: a young couple move north to his native Scotland. His wife, a poet, is pregnant, emotionally vulnerable and knows no-one in the town; he simply slots into his working life as an architect.
As she encounters a chilly reception among locals and her baby arrives dramatically early, Dora becomes increasingly isolated, finding her only solace in the thought that the poet WH Auden once taught at the town’s grand old boarding school.
Strand two: it’s 1930 and the young poet W H Auden moves to Helensburgh to take his first teaching role at the local school. In her fictionalised re-imagining of the young poet’s life, his despair and loneliness as a necessarily closeted gay man are only mitigated by his secret and dangerous relationship with a young man in the town and teatimes with the headmaster’s spirited but frail wife, who understands that she has wasted her life away.
Clark’s multi layered stories are skilfully woven and midway through the novel she audaciously merges the two storylines as Dora becomes further and further adrift from her partner and the reality of her situation.
Larchfield hits that sweetest of slots as a novel that is both sensitively and beautifully told and one that the reader simply flies through. A delight for any fans of literary fiction or a fantastic gift for a friend