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Great writers, great books: 2. Great descriptions of place

Tree (Photo credit: Adnan Yahya)

Those of you who read my post last week will be – hopefully – on the edge of their seats for this post about great writers and great books.  Well, at least looking forward to it a little bit!

This time I am sharing wonderful descriptions of place, I make no apologies for including five examples of an Irish playwright, novelist and poet previously totally unknown to me – Sebastian Dunne – the book these are taken from has been described as a truly moving eloquent read –  judge for yourselves in the following extracts:

Sebastian Barry: Annie Dunne
My crab-apple tree seems to watch over their coming, like a poor man forever waiting for alms with cap in hand.  There is soughing in the beech trees and the ash, and the small music of hens. 

The room is bleak, the room is bare.  A tiny hill of brown turf with seams of garnet fire steams in the grate.  The window is as small as an owl and frames the lower clutter of the ash tree outside. 

I can hear over my head in the wooden loft the tiny dance steps of the real mice as they cross and re-cross in a strange regularity, always going to the limits of the loft and heading back across the boards intently, as if drawing a great star in the dusty boards. 

Such water you could not drink.  But to plunge in my two hands and lift it, and bang it against my cheeks – my under-skin sparkles, it feels like. I see things for an instant – things of summer, rooks racketing out of the trees, heavy heated leaves flashing.  Then the room again, the simple wooden room. 

I pass from the wild glass of the sunlight into the familiar blindness of the kitchen. 

Edith Wharton: The Age of Innocence
The day was delectable.  The bare vaulting of trees along the Mall was ceiled with lapis lazuli and arched above snow that shone like splintered crystals 

At the end of the lane was the blue glimmer of the river; to the left, standing in front of a clump of oaks and maples, he saw a long tumble down house with white paint peeling from its clapboards 

Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay: How can I talk if my lips don’t move?
The riches of summer, the cargo of greens and bejewelled lights, hang in the hedges, casual, at ease.  The heat drives everything.  

I believe that if you cared enough to listen, you could hear the sky and earth speaking to each other in the language of blue and brown. 

M C Beaton: The Skeleton in the Close
A newspaper performed an erratic ballet down the street outside and then, after a final entrechat, sailed up over the roofs and disappeared.

O Henry:Telemachus, Friend
The moon was attending to business in the section of sky where it belonged, and the trees was making shadows on the ground according to science and nature, and there was a kind of conspicuous hullabaloo going on in the bushes between the bullbats and the orioles and the jack-rabbits and other feathered insects of the forest.

Lovely pieces of writing aren’t they?  If you enjoyed these you might enjoy the previous post about characters  In my next post I will complete this little series of words I have loved with one single evocative poem that will make you feel as if summer is here – whether or not the sunshine is with us.

In the meantime can you share any little gems with me?

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