In the Grieving of Her Days
Eight months in the life of Clare Wilson, a widow in her late seventies living alone in a comfortable South Kensington flat which has been her home for decades. As she struggles to make sense of post-Brexit Britain in a world that has left her behind and that seems full of unhappiness and anxiety, her quiet life is upset first by an unexpected death and then by Covid 19 and its consequences for her and for those she loves.
In the Grieving of her Days is a contemporaneous ‘state-of-the-nation’ novel, and also a particularly accomplished work. Lucy Beckett’s precise and gentle style will please her admirers; this most contained story reminds me of a fifteenth-century Flemish painting with precise domestic details, and glimpses of Libya and Assam in the distance. The passages describing the central character at Mass and at prayer, and her thoughts about her faith, are beautifully written and most moving.
Piers Paul Read
LUCY BECKETT is a novelist, historian and literary critic. She grew up in Yorkshire, was educated at Cambridge University, and, with her husband, the musicologist John Warrack, has lived back in Yorkshire for nearly fifty years. She taught for many years at Ampleforth College, and has written a number of books of different kinds. She has four children and ten grandchildren.
Her other novels, all available from Gracewing, include The Time Before You Die, A Postcard from the Volcano, The Leaves are Falling, and The Year of Thamar’s Book.
978 0 85244 902 8 320 pages £17.99
The Year of
The Year of Thamar’s Book is set in the months from the spring of 2015 to the summer of 2016. An elderly recluse living in a quiet village in Burgundy discovers that he is not as alone in the world as he has for many years assumed. His grandson, well-educated but ignorant, comes to the village to help the old man turn into a book the chaotic pile of manuscript that tells the story of a difficult, painful yet luminous life. As he writes, and listens, the young man learns a good deal, and begins to understand not only how French colonial history and the horrors of wars in Algeria formed and hurt his grandfather, but also how their lasting consequences are still damaging his country and his own family. At the same time he begins to understand his grandfather’s faith.
The Year of Thamar’s Book is Lucy Beckett’s most ambitious work to date. It is beautifully written, with its delicate and leisurely descriptions of nature, and it was an inspired idea to have at its core the Algerian war of independence which has not been dealt with before in English fiction. The breadth and scope of its interlocking narratives work extremely well, as does Beckett’s clear and courageous elucidation of the Catholic faith.
Piers Paul Read
Lucy Beckett is a novelist, historian and literary critic. Among her books are studies of Wallace Stevens and Wagner’s Parsifal, a major survey of the Western literary tradition in its Christian context, and three novels, The Time Before You Die, set in the English Reformation, A Postcard from the Volcano, set in Weimar Germany, and The Leaves are Falling, set in the borderlands of Poland and Russia during World War II, which won the 2015 Aquinas Award for Fiction.
She was educated at Cambridge University, has lived in Yorkshire all her life, is married to the musicologist, John Warrack, and has four children and ten grandchildren.
On The Time Before You Die:
“This great novel places us in the turbulent time of the English Reformation where
we experience the common trauma of the day, and then, as in all excellent historical
fiction, we ask ourselves, ‘Where does my choice lie?’ Seldom has this challenge
been given so well. Beckett is a very gifted writer.”
Michael D. O’Brien, Author, Father Elijah: An Apocalypse
On A Postcard from the Volcano:
“Lucy Beckett has the rare gift of making a fictional account more illuminating of its context than many a factual history can do. Altogether this is one of the most intelligent, sensitive, and gripping novels that I have ever read.”
John Jolliffe The Tablet
“Beckett is superb in her handling of the bigger picture. This is a deeply interesting book by a highly intelligent writer.”
Charlotte Moore The Spectator
978 085244 935 6 520 pages £20.00
A Late Finding
Clare Wilson, long widowed, nearly eighty, and mostly alone in the Kensington flat where she has lived for decades, is used to the losses of old age. Her oldest friend has died; after years the pain of losing a child has not faded; and the young have lives of their own to live. While she struggles to sustain her faith in God and her hope for an England which makes her increasingly unhappy and increasingly ashamed, she is astonished and sustained by the gift of a new friendship. This, appearing so late in her life, is something she could not have imagined. It brings her not only someone to talk to during the peculiar months of Covid restrictions and distancing, but understanding of a country and a tragic history of which she knew nothing. Two old people in London, keeping each other company, should surely be safe from the horrors of the outside world.
Lucy Beckett is a novelist, historian and literary critic. Her novels include The Time Before You Die, set in the English Reformation, A Postcard from the Volcano, set in Weimar Germany, The Leaves are Falling, set in the borderlands of Poland and Russia during World War II, The Year of Thamar's Book, a powerful evocation of La France profonde in counterpoint to the horrors of the Algerian War for independence, and In the Grieving of her Days.
978 0 85244 144 2 362 pages £20.00