Catherine Foster

H. E. Bates, Author Severn House Publishers $16.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-7278-1608-5
H. E. Bates was a remarkable English novelist and short story writer who died in 1974, leaving behind a substantial body of work, including the novels The Purple Plain , A House of Women and Fair Stood the Wind for France , and a raft of short stories more keenly observant of English country life than any since Thomas Hardy's. (A number of these were filmed and shown on PBS-TV as Country Tales. ) In this country, he has never achieved the reputation he deserved and enjoyed at home. The belated appearance here of what was apparently his first novel is therefore particularly welcome. Bates was only 23 years old when Catherine Foster was published in 1928, and the assurance he displays here is almost incredible for one of that age. The novel is essentially a variant on Madame Bovary , a study of a sensitive, romantic woman allied to a commonplace man who falls into a helpless and doomed affair with her brother-in-law. But Bates's evocation of mood and weather in a provincial English backwater, his quiet naturalism and delicate sense of shifting emotions, and, above all, the unstrained precision of his writing, make this an unforgettable novel by a writer much worth knowing. (August)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1988
Release date: 12/01/1988
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