Saturday, December 26, 2009

Last Things

I just finished reading the last novel of C.P. Snow's Strangers and Brothers series. Of the final three novels in the 11-part series, I enjoyed Corridors of Power (the ninth) and Last Things (11th and last) better than The Sleep of Reason, which was quite bleak. But it was all a joy to read. Indeed, I am sure I will never forget the experience of reading it. I am reminded of younger days when, after closing the back cover of David Copperfield or Great Expectations, I experienced a feeling of palpable loss - that I would never again meet those wonderful characters to whom I had grown attached. Being older now, I am not so prone to such maudlin sentiments. Still, I will remember fondly Lewis Elliot, his first wife Shelia, second wife Margaret, brother Martin, Roy Calvert, Francis Getliffe, George Passant, Arthur Brown, Roger Quaife, Walter Luke, and others. One advantage of a series such as Strangers and Brothers - or Harry Potter for that matter - is that the author can develop the characters in a more realistic, leisurely fashion, as they are perceived not just by one other character or narrator, but from a variety of  perspectives, and over time.

I would certainly recommend Strangers and Brothers to anyone who enjoys twentieth-century English literature. If you do decide to read Snow's magnum opus, I strongly recommend reading it in order, from Years of Hope (though it  was not the first book in the series to be published) through to Last Things

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