Archive for May, 2018

The Visitors by Mary McMinnies ~ 1958. This edition: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1958. Hardcover. 576 pages.

Breaking my recent life-is-stupid-busy silence to give a resoundingly positive shout-out to like-minded vintage novel aficionados regarding this stellar 1958 novel, a hidden gem if there ever was one.

10-carat diamond quality, people, 24-carat gold. This is very good stuff indeed.

It took me a good ten days to work my way through The Visitors, which is mostly a reflection of my very limited reading time, but I dove into it every chance I had, five minutes here, ten minutes there, not wanting to miss a sentence. It was positively addictive.

Nothing much actually happens in this novel. It’s a slow, intense, smouldering sort of thing, and the characters are allowed ample time to display their unique characteristics; we know them very well indeed by our journey’s end.

Publisher’s flyleaf blurbs generally err on the side of overenthusiasm for the contents within; not so in this case. Every word is true. My next step this morning after posting this will be to scour ABE for The Flying Fox, McMinnies’s first novel. She only seems to have published the two. What a disappointment.

Anyone else familiar with this writer? Why haven’t I heard of her before? Maybe it’s the only-two-books thing. This sort of find gives me such pleasure, for who knows what else I may stumble upon in my journey through the immense and rewarding forest of vintage reading!

My rating: 10/10. (That was easy.)

And oh, yes, that rather funky, green-tinted cover illustration.

When I picked this up from the jumbled heap of old hardcovers at a recent charity book sale, I had an instant vision of this perhaps being one of those over-written 1960s drug-culture dramas, obviously concerning hallucinogenic mushrooms: the woman’s half-closed eyes and rather addled expression, the focus on the prize (as it were), the sinister lurker in the shadows.

It turned out to be much more innocent (?) than that. The mushroom incident is a wonderfully metaphoric excursion into an Eastern European forest, the fungi providing the purpose for the excursion being the strictly culinary kind. And the lurker is not as sinister as he appears to be.

While life is slowing down just a bit, time is still in short supply, even on a peaceful Mother’s Day Sunday morning, so I’ll cheat on the personal review aspect and instead give you the flyleaf scans and the back cover author biography to be going on with.

I should really include some excerpts from the book. I’ve earmarked a few particularly stellar passages, places where I stopped and backed up and re-read with ever-increasing joy at how McMinnies handled her words. I might return to this post and add those in future. Perhaps the next time I read this novel? For it is decidedly a keeper.

 

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