Wednesday 13 September 2017

Niall Williams

Have been reading Niall Williams As it is in Heaven .
 Associations that come to mind are Romanticism with a capital R and fantastical like the South American writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
I thought of Bronte's  Wuthering Heights, the film Like Water for Chocolate, and the movie Chocolat

Stephen Griffin falls hopelessly in love with Italian violinist Gabriella Castoldi.

His is a tragic background, having lost his mother and sister to a road traffic accident, and Gabriella cannot get over the disappointments of her childhood; the harsh reprimands of her father and the blight of her dead mother's miscarriages. She is afraid to love.

Most of us are probably afraid to love. And often one or two forays into the forest of Romantic love is enough to send us skidding to firm ground for comfort and security. Only the truly naive or courageous persist. And Stephen is one of those.

He is the quintessential nineteenth century romantic who will give up all, risk penury and starvation in pursuit of the beloved.

Such plights usually are doomed and such love, as Bronte depicts, is of another realm and has no roots to sustain it in this world. But we desperately hope that he will succeed.

In fairy tales he usually does. But this is not fairy tale. Set in the haunting and formidable landscapes of Kerry and Clare,the lovers encounter real problems, real prejudices and social challenges alongside the ubiquitous hags, fairygodmothers et al.

I tried to describe the story to a friend and ended up crying, because it is a book that is about feeling and avoidance of feeling and compromise and dreams and disenchantment and innocence and experience. It takes you into that dreaded forest that you have already escaped from.
And it isn't Hollywood.

You will revisit the places that scare you and you will come out changed.

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