A View from Oxford

An old friend and mentor from Oxford has read my novel Falcons and Seagulls and offered a few reflections upon whether it is one story or two; two old houses—the Fairchilds of Massachusetts and the Macleods of Utah—overseen by two chatelaines; or the separation of Parts One and Two purely an interlude. He continues:

“An interlude in a novel need not be a division of narrative—which a good editor would not permit—nor a transition in the ensue that a “turn” occurs in a poem. In your novel, Part Two is a transposition, as in music, from one key to another, or from voice-to-voice. True, the hero’s journey is not complete, as Solomon has had to flee the place of his original call-to-action (Phil’s murder) and his hiatus in Part Two returns him for a time to the safety of his twin sister and his daughter. Here a new story does emerge independently in the sense that the Utah characters in Part One lurk dangerously in waiting, while in Part Two a life of comfort and ease is available in New England: He may reconcile with his wife, Grace, from whom he has been estranged for a year; revive his close ties to his daughter Fiona,  at twenty a true soul mate and sounding board fro his conscience. The mood and manner in manner in New England—you so beautifully contrast people, nature and life there from the harsh edges and deep chasms amid the faith of his ancestors in Utah—draws Solomon into safety, serenity and forgetting, again into the life of Homer’s “reluctant” hero.

The inevitable return to Utah–a second “call-to-action”—you have portrayed masterfully in his uncle, Iain MacCloed’s death and an expanding canvas across which all the previously contending forces against Solomon converge. Here, he develops his friendship with Leah, from the Israeli Press Office (viz., Mossad); Fiona meets and falls in Love with Jake Featherstone, a Goshute Tribal Chief; and justice, in and out of a courtroom, is served as a calamity of nature brings re-birth for those who deserve it. In conclusion, I’d say the bridge between East & West is sound, and permits believable crossing of characters leaving a fully intact, single story. When you visit me later this summer in Oxford, we’ll talk more over a few pints of Guinness—what you—cash it be twenty years ago?—called ‘a magical meal, served with greens and double-Gloucester, mixing memory and desire.” WMT

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