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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Everyman’s Library, 1991, 606 p, plus xxiii p Introduction by Lucy Hughes-Hallett, ii p Select Bibliography, iv p Chronology and iii p Prefaces to the Second and Third Editions (as by Currer Bell.) First published in 1847.

Jane Eyre cover

I suppose this book hardly needs an introduction what with it being an acknowledged classic of nineteenth century literature. It could be described as Gothic – there is a madwoman in an attic, but it is also an instance of the ‘gaining of wisdom’ narrative, plus a case of virtue fulfilled, and there is even a dollop of Cinderella in its protagonist’s childhood. The later appearance of long-lost cousins, not to mention a handy inheritance, though, lend an air of authorial contrivance to the proceedings. And it has that besetting characteristic of the Victorian novel, an unrelenting wordiness. It’s easy to carp of course (and it should not be forgotten stepmothers were a prominent feature of life in the days the novel describes) but Lucy Hughes-Hallett’s Introduction reminds us Jane Eyre was innovatory, Brontë’s voice something new. The book certainly has had an enduring influence, with a wide afterlife, inspiring other hands to write prequels (Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea) and homages (Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.)

Jane Eyre is an orphan, entrusted to the care of her uncle, Mr Reed, who has unfortunately also deceased. Mrs Reed takes the wicked stepmother role, preferring her own children and treating Jane with lack of kindness and understanding, not seeing the calumnies with which her son John in particular attributes to Jane. Being packed off to boarding school (Lowood,) would have been a relief were that institution not (at least initially) so spartan. Here Jane meets the almost too saintly Helen Burns whose fate it is to die of consumption but not before Jane can reveal her philosophy to her. “‘If people were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust, the wicked people would have it all their own way.’”

Feminism avant la lettre reveals itself in the passage, “Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do.” This of course shows that women have been telling men things for donkey’s ages without the message ever managing to get through.

With her schooling finished Jane spends a few years teaching at Lowood herself before the departure of her mentor Miss Temple – to get married – prompts her to advertise for a position as governess. Thus finally, after over one hundred pages of preamble, we get to the main seat of the story, Thornfield Hall, and the brooding presence of its lord and master, Edward Fairfax Rochester.

How anyone could be attracted to Mr Rochester is a mystery to me. Jane knows almost from the outset of her dealings with him that he has a past. He himself tells her of a dalliance with the French actress Céline Varens, through whose machinations he has the charge of a ward in the shape of Adéle, for whose benefit Jane has been engaged as governess. He plays games with Jane – and, to be fair, with his aristocratic confrères – dressing up as a gypsy fortune teller to beguile them all and further his own designs, but also verbally. Moreover, he crucially conspires to keep the identity of the secret occupant of the attic unknown to Jane, allowing her to believe it is an attendant, Grace Poole. And is it a form of cruelty that sees Jane lodged in a room directly below that occupant? OK, he’s been dealt a stacked hand and trying to make the best of it but he is still trying to take advantage of a relative innocent. Even when his perfidy is revealed to her at the altar just before he’s about to contract a bigamous marriage with her she continues to think well of him. It is a fact of history, though, that such men are usually able to get away with it.

Still, Jane’s virtue will not see her become Rochester’s mistress. She flees Thornfield, and, penniless, stumbles into a village where no-one extends a helping hand. She is about to expire on his doorstep when St John Rivers hears her invoking God and brings her indoors to be looked after by his sisters and maidservant. Rivers is a strict religious man intent on becoming a missionary and creates a teaching post for her in the village. Religion may have been prominent in Victorian life but even so its presence here is an indicator that Brontë was brought up in a parsonage. Despite protestations on its first publication of its lack of piety, even of anti-religious content, religious discourse and allusion perfuse the novel, its resolution depends on Rivers’s vocation, and Jane’s different understanding of it.

It is in these closing stages of the book, though, that events begin to stretch credulity – even beyond a bigamous marriage being thwarted at the altar by the revelation of a previous wife who is still alive. Not many of us in extremis would expect to end up by chance in the household of a long-lost set of cousins nor to be the beneficiary of a bountiful bequest. Then off-stage events at Thornfield Hall enable what we are presumably to infer is a happy ending, though that Jane now has the advantage of Rochester does not speak entirely well of her. And it wasn’t at all happy for the incarcerated wife that had to die to allow it.

There are, too, other irritating aspects of the writing. Brontë has that unfortunate habit of designating places and periodicals with part names, _______shire, The ________ Herald. Why this coyness? Either spell them out properly or invent fictitious names for them. It’s a novelist’s job to make things up.

Love and death are perennial in the novel (any sex here, however, is strictly not to be mentioned.) However, time, and changing habits, have partially obscured the merits of a book like Jane Eyre. Novels nowadays tend to be less discursive. To modern eyes Jane Eyre is overwritten, even at places overwrought. It will always have an audience though.

Pedant’s corner:- In the Introduction; Helen Burns’ (Burns’s,) Dickens’ (Dickens’s,) Jean Rhys’ (Rhys’s.) Otherwise; there are various Victorian spellings – pannels (but, later, panels,) doat, blent, canvass, trode (trod,) secresy, dulness, etc, the correct ‘by-the-by’ swaps with ‘by-the bye’ at times. Then we have, “the Miss Reeds” (the Misses Reed,) also Miss Wilsons (Misses Wilson; I note that later on we have the two Misses Eshton,) Madame Jouberts (Mesdames Joubert,) bounp (bound, the p is actually an upside-down d so definitely a typesetting error.) “‘His elaer brother?’” (elder A transcription error in the typesetting?) “TheApollo Belvidree” (The Apollo Belvedere,) inammorata (inamorata,) stupefied (stupefied,) “the rest of the party were occupied” (the rest of the party was occupied,) “for the company were gathered” (the company was gathered,) “his gripe was painful” (his grip,) “had belonged to the Rivers’” (to the Riverses,) “Mr Rivers’ pointer” (Rivers’s.)

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Guild Publishing, 1980, 280 p. First published in 1811.

Expectations count. When you’re told something is good – excellent even – your anticipation is heightened, but perhaps also tinged with the thought, ‘Well go on. Impress me then.’

So what do you say about an acknowledged classic of English literature? Well, the first thing is that the past was different. This was written over two hundred years ago. They did things – and wrote – differently there. There is a prolixity to the prose here also present in Walter Scott’s novels (an only slightly later vintage) – though Austen is by far the better stylist and aphorist – yet to begin with I found this more of a slog than Scott and the similarly vintaged Mary Shelley stories I have read in the past few years were a smooth read by comparison. I don’t suppose my familiarity with Sense and Sensibility’s plot due to TV series and film adaptations helped with this.

For expectations count. I had been told that Austen’s dialogue was exquisite, but what I found in the first few pages was very little in the way of dialogue but instead, screeds of exposition, a large amount of telling rather than showing; backgrounding if you like, but still.

I don’t give up on books though. Not even poor ones. And this is by no means a poor book. It just didn’t grab me overmuch.

People don’t change, but social circumstances do. The constraints Austen’s characters – and the author herself in the writing of them – were under are/were formidable. She was writing for her time and a degree of prolixity would have been welcome back then.

Sense and Sensibility demonstrates behaviours recognisable today – Mrs John Dashwood’s selfishness disguised as concern for her offspring, well-meaning but overbearing neighbours, imputations derived from the slimmest of evidence, money driving people’s motivations. The centre of the main plot, though, Marianne Dashwood, is seen through her sister, Elinor’s, eyes and is shadowy as a result, Colonel Brandon, nearly always off-stage, seemed more of an absence than an agonist in the book, Willoughby’s attempts/protests at self-exculpation, though underlining his cupidity, are an unlikely ploy.

I’m not giving up on Austen, though. My expectations tempered, my exposure to her style as a prime, I’ll need to see what I make of the rest of her œuvre in the light of those.

Pedant’s corner:- There are some 1811 spellings – ‘dropt’ ‘wrapt’ ‘farewel’ ‘stopt’ ‘befal’ ‘seisure’ sooth for soothe etc, sprung for sprang and sunk for sank, but some which may be exclusively Austen’s, ‘chuse’ (but ‘choose’ also appears,) ‘scissars’ ‘wo’nt’ (but ‘won’t elsewhere) ‘stilish’ ‘expence’ (yet expenses for the plural, and, later, expense for the singular,) ‘extatic’ (but ‘ecstasy’ and ‘ecstacy’ later.). Otherwise; the Miss Dashwoods, the Miss Careys, the Miss Steeles (the Misses Dashwood, the Misses Carey, the Misses Steele,) “carried away be her fancy” (by her fancy,) “the whole party were assembled” (was assembled,) “in whatever shop the party were engaged” (the party was engaged,) “these kind of scrutinies” (these kinds of scrutinies,) a missing comma before a piece of direct speech, “in her way to the carriage” (on her way sounds more natural to me.)

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Bloomsbury, 2017, 354 p

 Lincoln in the Bardo cover

This book won the Booker Prize in 2017. While I recognise it is stylistically inventive – the tale is told through a series of short passages (none more than three pages long at most, some containing only three or so words,) apparent extracts from accounts or memoirs of the time and dialogue “spoken” by the novel’s characters, some of whom continue others’ sentences, and all appended by the source or speaker credited with their identity in a line or three whose text is aligned to the centre of the page – I confess I was a bit underwhelmed. To me it seemed as if the text layout could as easily have been presented as in a play (ie with the speaker identified in capitals on the left) without making any material difference to the content. That also would have had the advantage of signalling the speaker before the dialogue commenced, instead of having to wait for that if the passage ran on to a page which required to be turned to reveal it. I can see, though, it may well work better as a dramatic presentation on film or TV, particularly the voice-intercutting parts.

The concept, Abraham Lincoln’s dead son Willie continues an existence beyond death in a kind of limbo – the bardo of the title; a Tibetan term, though I did not notice that word in the text. Lincoln’s visits to his dead son’s body create a disturbance in the bardo (for its denizens can see and hear him and others in the corporeal world) as much as they were commented on by his contemporaries.

The bardo’s occupants, for whatever reason prevented from moving on to heaven or hell, reveal details of themselves and their lives, and make attempts to communicate with Lincoln, feeling his thoughts as he strolls through the cemetery or sits in the mausoleum where Willie’s body lies. They do not refer to coffins or caskets or tombs. Each lies in, or rises from, a “sick-box”, they still retain hope of returning to their former life and in many cases do not recognise the passing of time.

For children, lingering in the bardo is thought to be undesirable. Our two main voices, hans vollman and roger bevins iii (occupants’ names are always given in lower case italics in the text) encourage Willie Lincoln to pass through. For longer term bardo lingerers such a moving on is accompanied by “the bone-chilling firesound associated with the matterlightblooming phenomenon.” Willie’s refusal to do so and realisation through experiencing his father’s thoughts that he is in fact dead, provoke the novel’s crisis.

Though at times I found myself nodding off I doubt this was the book’s fault. (I did not read it in the most propitious circumstances.) Saunders writes well and provides plenty of incident and memoir while his prose is easy to read. But I constantly found myself wondering, what is the point of it? Which part of the human condition is this meant to illuminate? By definition dead people are dead and cannot communicate back to us – and they do not in this novel (even if they do think they influence Lincoln’s actions, and those of other corporeal characters, in a small way.) Perhaps I am more attuned to the idea of fiction set in an afterlife than those swept up in the buzz surrounding the book, less struck by the idea of it being somehow original.

Pedant’s corner:- many of the characters “speak” – or their voices are rendered in – their own particular demotic, with spelling and so on signalling such. I did not note these instances. Otherwise: “but none are saved, all are lost,” (none is saved.)

A Strangeness in my Mind by Orhan Pamuk

faber and faber, 2015, 613 p including v p Contents, ii p Aktaş and Karataş family tree, v p Index of characters and vii p Chronology. Translated from the Turkish Kafamda bir tuhaflik by Ekin Orlap.

 A Strangeness in my Mind cover

This is the story of Mevlut Karataş who wanders the streets of Istanbul at night selling boza – a kind of fermented drink concocted so as Turks could believe they were not actually drinking alcohol even though they were – from the panniers hung from the pole across his shoulders. While the narrative is mainly carried by a third person account of Mevlut’s life and thoughts, the viewpoints of many of the individuals connected to Mevlut are interpolated into the text. All of these are written in the first person and introduced by that narrator’s name. Though all the details of Mevlut’s life from his arrival in Istanbul to help his father on his boza rounds, through his prolonged and ultimately unfruitful sojourn at the Atatürk Secondary School for Boys, his years conscripted in the army, the attempts to sell yoghurt, ice cream and cooked rice, the other ventures into employment, cashier in a café, car park guard, electricity inspector – residents of Istanbul seem to have been very creative in the ways they could steal electricity from the supply company – it is his love life which provides the book’s main thrust.

The first chapter depicts the defining incident in Mevlut’s life, and it is as magic realist as you could wish – only not magical at all. For three years Mevlut had been writing letters to Rayiha, a girl whose eyes he had stared into at the wedding of his cousin Korkut. Korkut’s brother Süleyman agrees to help Mevlut elope with Rayiha and arranges the deed. When Mevlut glimpses the girl in the back of Süleyman’s van that night he is bewildered to discover she is not the one he thought he had been writing to. Nevertheless, he marries her, comes to love her and have two daughters with her. Süleyman’s deception, of course, (he had designs on the girl with the eyes, Rayiha’s sister, Sadiha, himself,) has ramifications throughout the book.

Many observations about love are made within the text. Hadji Hamit Vural avows, “‘if you’re going to love a girl as deeply as your brother here … you’ve got to make sure to start loving her after you’re married …… but if you fall in love before that .. and you sit down to discuss the bride price with the girl’s father, then those cunning, crafty fathers will ask you for the moon … Most couples would not fall in love if they got to know each other even just a little bit before getting married …. There is also the kind that happens when two people get married and fall in love after that … and that can only happen when you marry someone you don’t know.’” Süleyman’s later lover Melahat (a stage performer under the name Mahinur Mehrem) lets us know that, “‘I could write a book about all the men I’ve known, and then I would also end up on trial for insulting Turkishness.’”

The changing face of the city into whose nooks and crannies Mevlut wanders plying his wares and the evolution of Turkish life become major themes, with the political ups and downs a background never fully occupying Mevlut’s mind; but a sense of the role played by emphasising the nation is never far away, “in this night, pure and everlasting, like an old fairy tale, being Turkish felt infinitely better than being poor.”

The more you read Pamuk the more it becomes clear that his real subject, his true love, is Istanbul; though Turkishness in the wider sense is also important and affairs of the heart never far away. Here Mevlut’s friend Ferhat tells us that, “What makes city life so meaningful is the things we hide.” Pamuk’s œuvre has probed into those hidden places – more so in A Strangeness in my Mind as his previous books have tended to concentrate more on middle class Istanbul, whereas here our hero (as Pamuk refers to Mevlut several times, this is a knowing type of narration) is one of those for whom getting on in the world has always been difficult, he does not know enough of the right people, never accumulates sufficient capital to become affluent.

Again in a Pamuk novel set in modern times there is an acute consciousness of football, but here no hint of anyone called Orhan Pamuk. If Istanbul itself were not enough, allusions to a journalist character from The Black Book would tie this novel in with previous works.

Through all his modern novels – and arguably in those set in historical times – Pamuk has been picking away at the threads of Turkish life, the tensions between religion and the secular sphere, the restrictions set on the people by political, societal and religious dictats. It is almost possible having read enough Pamuk to feel you know something about Turkey, and especially about Istanbul. This may be a delusion but it’s closer to the truth than those without that experience can ever have.

Pedant’s corner:- no start quotation mark when a chapter begins with a piece of dialogue, shopwindows (shop windows. Is it one word in Turkish?) “enormous billboards that look up one whole side of a six- or seven story [sic] building” (took up makes more sense,) “thirty two liras” (isn’t the plural of lira just ‘lira’? Many instances of liras,) “he would open at random to a page” (‘he would open a page at random’ sounds a more natural construction,) the text refers to Argentina and England being at war, and to ‘English’ ships (that of course should be Britain and British respectively,) occasional omitted commas before and after direct speech, “provide the overhead” (in British English it’s ‘overheads’,) “the lay of all the neighbourhoods” (the lie.)

Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land by John Crowley

William Morrow, 2005, 472 p

Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land

Lord Byron, of course, never wrote a novel – except perhaps the beginnings of one. Or, if he did, it is lost to the mists of time. Crowley’s conceit here is that Byron completed it, and that his daughter, Ada Lovelace, “the first computer programmer,” burned it due to her batty mother’s insistence, but, before she did so, encrypted it in a series of numbers. Those numbers have turned up in papers belonging to Viscount Ockham, Ada’s son. A website called strongwomanstory has gained access to these and sent a reporter to look them over. This aspect of Crowley’s novel is related in a series of emails and letters between the reporter “Smith” and her mother “Thea” but expands to include her father. Smith’s relationship with her father is much the same as Ada Lovelace’s with hers – sexual indiscretions resulting in estrangement – except the modern story holds the promise of reconciliation. Included in these exchanges is the observation that Ada’s story contains ‘a monster parent, but it’s not her father-it’s her mother’ and the observation about Byron’s notorious lack of punctuation, “Printers in those days could punctuate. Imagine. Now hardly anybody can.”

It would of course be impossible to proceed with this scenario were the “novel” by Lord Byron not to appear in these pages and it does take up by far the largest part of the book. Crowley has done an impressive job in ventriloquising the poet’s voice even if at one point he does have Byron pre-echo Tolstoy with the thought, “Happy endings are all alike; disasters may be unique.” Its protagonist, Ali, born in Albania as the result of a liaison with a wandering British aristocrat, Lord Sane, is in young adulthood sought out by his father to become heir to the Sane estate, somewhere in Scotland. This tale, The Evening Land, is as Gothic as you could wish, involving a gruesome death, misplaced accusations, possible amnesia, an impersonator, a clandestine seduction – everything you would expect from a book with such supposed origins and complete with the verisimilitudinal inclusion of archaic spellings such as dropt for dropped, segar for cigar and soar’d for soared. We are also given Ada’s commentary on the text of The Evening Land, in the form of “her” notes on each chapter, wherein she wonders if her father could ever have imagined a family not riven by disputes. (There is, too, a respect in which, notwithstanding the fact that The Evening Land’s contents bear resemblances to incidents in Byron’s life, this overall endeavour might be said to be more about Ada than Byron.)

Then we have the wonderful cover illustration featuring Caspar David Friedrich’s painting Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog,) and the rough-cut page edges making the book resemble one from the early 19th century show a pleasing attention to detail.

Crowley came to my attention back in the 1970s with books such as Little, Big, Aegypt (I note here the appearance in the text of The Evening Land of the spelling Æschylus,) and Engine Summer but dropped off my reading register till I noticed this book. I’ll be looking for more of him now though.

Pedant’s corner:-
In the back cover flap blurb: “Wanderer Above a Sea of Fog” (Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog.) Otherwise: “‘into whose recognizance’” (recognisance – I doubt Byron would have used USian spellings, others, such as honour, are rendered in the British way. Plus recognizance is a US legal formulation rather than a Scottish one,) “‘these lands and goods was truly yours’” (were,) “Kendals drops” (Kendal drops,) Bachus’ (Bachus’s.)

On Green Dolphin Street by Sebastian Faulks

Hutchinson, 2001, 345 p.

Love, sex, and death, again. Literary fiction doesn’t seem to stray far from those. Though I suppose there isn’t that much sex here, and death is mostly off-stage. Set in the late 1950s as they turn to the 60s, the love is that between Mary van der Linden, sojourning in Washington DC with her diplomat husband Charlie (whose career has stalled somewhat, perhaps because he is too fond of the bottle) and journalist Frank Renzo who is making a slow return after disfavour in the McCarthy years.

The book does describe the progress of what I assume is supposed to be a great love affair but unlike in Penelope Lively’s Moon Tiger I didn’t really feel it, was never convinced. When Mary states her feelings for Frank they more or less come out of the blue as far as the reader is concerned. (His affections – or perhaps I should say intentions – were discernible from the outset.)

To add a bit of colour incidents from the characters’ earlier lives are incorporated into the narrative – Mary’s first lover, who died in the Second World War, Frank and Charlie’s almost forgotten meeting at Dien Bien Phu – as are contemporary events, particularly the first Kennedy-Nixon TV debate and Charlie’s breakdown on a visit to Moscow which sharpens the tale with a dose of Cold Wear paranoia. And everybody smokes like a lum.

I remember the author’s earlier novel Birdsong with some affection. On Green Dolphin Street, while readable enough, is no Birdsong

I did though learn that there is a Dumbarton Street in Washington DC!

Pedant’s corner:- USian usages – fender, hat-check girl, laundromat, elevator, the fall, bake sale, sidewalk etc – but aluminium not aluminum and railways [sic] sleepers not railroad ties. Otherwise; Commonweath war cemetery (at the time it would have been an Imperial war cemetery,) “sluiced it down” (twice in the space of a page or so is once too many,) croci (crocus isn’t from Latin, so crocuses,) “under the instructions of a man with a crew-cut called Don Hewitt” (why does his hair-do have a name? A minor edit would have got rid of this,) “which even in this light she could see where shot with blood” (were shot,) on to (onto,) railways sleepers (railway sleepers,) sprung (sprang.)

Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively

Andre Deutsch, 1987, 211 p.

Moon Tiger cover

Claudia Hampton, a professional historian and, though unmarried, mother of Lisa, is on her deathbed. The doctor mentally notes that birth and an earlier miscarried child. While various important people in her life come and go at her bedside Claudia’s thoughts roam over her life. Her reminiscences are presented in the first person but sometimes scenes (even the same ones) are given to us in the third person from a different viewpoint. Claudia tells us, “I’ve always thought a kaleidoscopic view might be an interesting heresy…. Chronology irritates me…. everything happens at once.”

She recognises her inadequacy as a parent and is pleased her daughter is not overly gifted, “Intelligence is always a disadvantage. Parental hearts should sink at the first signs of it.” The two most important of her relationships were those with her brother Gordon and with Tom Southern, the lover she met on a trip up to near the front during her stint in Cairo as a War Correspondent in World War 2. Love came on her as a surprise, “She has reached the ripe old age of thirty-one without knowing this particular derangement. For derangement is surely what it is; only by stern physical effort can she keep herself from looking at him, touching him.” This being wartime the affair ends abruptly. The child she miscarried was of course Tom’s.

So. Love, sex and death, here we are again. But Lively has conjured a wonderful book from those ingredients, well worth its Booker Prize win in 1987. Her treatment of the desert war is full of incidental detail rather than grand sweep and is more immediate for that fact. Tom tells her, “‘An astonishing amount of piety goes on out here. You’d be surprised. The Lord is frequently invoked. He’s on our side, by the way, you’ll be glad to hear – or at least it’s taken for granted that he is,’” and that, “we will win the war” – “‘in the last resort we have greater resources. Wars have little to do with justice. Or valour or sacrifice or the other things traditionally associated with them. War has been much misrepresented, believe me. It’s had a disgracefully good press.’”

Lively’s knowledge of Egypt is put to good use (the Moon Tiger is a green coil that slowly burns all night, repelling mosquitoes) and the casual racist attitudes of the time are noted. “It was always mildly satisfying to see British racial complacency matched if not excelled by French xenophobia; the contempt with which Madame Charlot and her friends could invest the word arabe was more pungent even than the careless English ‘Gyppo’ or the curious pejorative use of ‘native’. It made us seem positively liberal-minded,” yet Claudia’s reflections on life conclude, “unless I am a part of everything I am nothing.”

There is more than a hint of the unusually close about the sibling relationship. “Until I was in my late twenties I never knew a man who interested me as much as Gordon did…. I measured each man I met against him, and they fell short. I tested myself for the frisson that Gordon induced, and it was not there.” This is underlined by the thought, “Incest is closely related to narcissism.” Plus we have, “I love you, she thinks. Always have. More than I’ve ever loved anyone, bar one. That word is overstretched; it cannot be made to do service for so many different things – love of children, love of friends, love of God, carnal love and cupidity and saintliness.”

Lively portrays very well the heightened awareness, the stark but total recall, of a passionate relationship. The descriptions of the remainder of Claudia’s life after Tom’s death – eventful and readable though they are – are subtly flatter. Her complicated relationship with Lisa’s father, Jasper, is also handled perfectly.

This is literary fiction at its best.

Pedant’s corner:- waggons (wagons,) a missing comma before a piece of direct speech, maw (as a mouth. It’s a stomach,) “The bridges wear necklaces of coloured lights; all along the banks the houseboats are ablaze, glowing against the dark, swirling patterned water” (this was in wartime Cairo. Surely it must have had a blackout. There was one in Alexandria. Then again, Lively was there herself during the war,) staunches (stanches.)

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