Monday 29 November 2010
I pulled a couple of old novels down from the bookcase over the weekend and in doing so rediscovered a favourite author of mine. Guy Bellamy's A Village Called Sin is, to use that oft used cliche, a cracking read from start to finish. Published in 1991 (and also when I first bought it in hardback - back then Bellamy was one of the few writers I couldn't wait to come out in paperback) it succeeded in getting under the skin of a disparate bunch of village dwellers fifty minutes from London: Compton Sinbury, known affectionately by the locals as Sin, is a hotbed of red-braced money-grabbing bankers and property developers together with struggling actors, over sexed odd job men and the ubiquitous village idiot. There's even a comely wench. Set at a time when there was barely a mobile phone in sight we are treated to some superbly paced conversations and well written set pieces - mostly emanating from the pub on the idylic village green. The Fox is a hostelry we've all been in and when snatches of dialogue are heard waiting to be seved at the bar, as Bellamy himself must, we've all been tempted to try the material out elsewhere. A couple of one-liners that I particularly like: 'the hardest part of running a marathon is the last twenty six miles.' And, 'the only woman who knows where her husband is twenty four hours of the day is a widow.' It's up there with Groucho Marx.
I ought to do this more. After all, isn't that why we collect books - so that we can read and re-read them at our leisure? But we rarely do. And after twenty years, while we may remember the synopsis, we've all but forgotten who did what to who and when. The new paperbacks waiting by my bed might just have to wait a little bit longer.