Review: A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

Rating:

A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle
1960, Ballantine Books

Review Summary: It is definitely a novel of an earlier time, but at the same time the characters are such that the novel has a touch of timelessness about it as well. Or perhaps its just the pacing I’m reacting to, as Beagle shows a unique touch in bringing an otherworldly sense of unhurriedness to the novel that dovetails remarkably well with the subject matter.

Full Review:

A Fine and Private Place is a remarkable novel, unlike anything I’ve quite read before. It is definitely a novel of an earlier time, but at the same time the characters are such that the novel has a touch of timelessness about it as well. Or perhaps its just the pacing I’m reacting to, as Beagle shows a unique touch in bringing an otherworldly sense of unhurriedness to the novel that dovetails remarkably well with the subject matter.

His characterization is well done, as it needs to be – there is very little “plot”, per se, throughout the novel, though we touch upon the thread here and there enough to feel the looming sense of dread at the end as the plot closes to its conclusion. His characters – all of them – have a realism that is pleasing, though the characters themselves are less than heroic – each entirely very human, dead or alive.

Thematically, I’m still mulling over what Beagle may be attempting to say in this novel, and probably will for years to come. It’s a story about obtaining clarity about oneself and what is really important to oneself, I think, and about defining our relationships to others, particularly those we love. It is a deft, haunting work, and I look forward to re-reading it again in the future.

05/04/08 CSL

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