- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 224 pages
- Publisher: Souvenir Press Ltd
- Publication Date: 20/03/1997
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780285633711
Showing 1 - 1 of 1 reviews.
Review by patrickgarson
A really singular book. Peter S. Beagle wrote something - as a nineteen year-old! - that, whilst not for everybody, is a fine novel and definitely a unique one.Jonathon Rebeck as been living in a cemetery for nearly twenty years. Hiding out in an abandoned mausoleum, his only friends are a talking raven, and the ghosts of the newly dead. It's difficult to add more without unnecessarily spoiling part of this slight novel's charm.Beagle's fully-realised characters really drive the narrative, which is one based foremost on emotions. The book is built on long stretches of dialogue; people talking about their feelings, or responding to others' - yet it never feels meandering or lackadaisical. Indeed, the existential questions A Fine and Private Place brings up are equally relevant in and outside the book, and at times possess an genuine urgency and pathos.Jonathon and the other denizens of the cemetery are always believable and interesting. Beagle has a great ear for dialogue and his descriptive prose is excellent, too; sharply observed but never too flowery.Indeed, these things all combine to produce an environment which is really unique. The cemetery feels like a three-dimensional and complete world, similar to our own, but separate. It lends the novel the feeling of a parable, without a parable's attendant simplicity or easy lessons. Not everyone will enjoy A Fine and Private Place. There are long stretches of little but dialogue; the feeling of almost impressionist unreality which permeates the book will alienate some readers; others may find the characters too self-obsessed or prolix. But I thought this was a real find. In the foreword, Beagle - now in his seventies - calls this his "state-of-grace novel", and I agree. There is something fleeting and wonderful caught between these pages. If you can find it, don't miss out.