Context: Read this as I hitch-hiked into and back from Cambridge.
This is a novel that many people have had spoiled as it is, or at least used to be, required reading for secondary school in the UK. But thankfully, I never read it there. I read it just now and I’m glad I did.
It’s a very poignant novel. There’s a beautiful juxtaposition of the harsh realities of growing up in a poor, ugly and violent coal-mining community in the 1960s and the natural beauty of the landscape and fauna described in the book.
This beauty is concentrated in Billy Casper, a “no-hoper” at school who has a deep love and appreciation for nature. He revels in the details of tree bark and raindrops but has not one ounce of interest in the academic or sporting nature of the school he attends. He truly knows the value of his environment and is almost alone in this in the whole novel.
There’s a conflict of course but I’ll not spoil that for you. It is a sadly beautiful novel and one that makes you reflect on what is important in life, especially if, like me, you’ve any experience of teaching.
There were no curtains up.
This reveals quite a bit about the story so if you want to see it click show
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