The Visitors: The Stories of Ronald Blythe

Ronald Blythe, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $16.95 (239p) ISBN 978-0-15-193912-1
Readers familiar with Blythe's vibrant evocation of English country life, Akenfield, will be further delighted by these 20 stories. Though written between 1957 and 1972, the precisely detailed emotional state they depict has a singularly modern cast. Like many characters in today's fiction, Blythe's suffer from a pervasive sense of loss but unlike their current counterparts, they are driven to seek ways to ameliorate the isolation such feelings engender. For, as Ellie Nineteen (a rural version of a bag lady) tells Toby, ""Folks have to live as they can.'' Toby, who appears in six stories, is one of a series of parentless children who must decipher the mysteries of the adult world if they are to survive. A group of childless gentleladies are similarly employed: seemingly random encounters with young, equally disenfranchised men release them from their cold nests of fear and complacency. And, for those unable to call upon members of the natural world, there are some fairly benevolent ghosts conjured up not to haunt but to relieve those already haunted of some of their private desolation. U.K. rights: Chatto & Windus; translation rights: JCM. November 29
Reviewed on: 11/01/1985
Release date: 11/01/1985
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