In the Springtime of the Year by Susan Hill
|In the Springtime of the Year by Susan Hill|
|Category: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: An exquisite and timeless exploration of love and grief which is surprisingly upliffting given the subject matter. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: April 2012|
|External links: Author's website|
Ben and Ruth had been married for just a year when he was killed in a tragic accident. One of the other foresters came to tell Ruth about what had happened, but in truth she had known before he arrived. From feeling deliriously happy she had descended within moments into the depths of despair and felt so ill that she could barely move. The confirmation was just that - and Ruth was bereft. She couldn't share her feelings with Ben's family. It's politic to say that they were dealing with their grief in their own way but more truthful to admit that they had never liked her and were disinclined to extend more than the socially-required gestures now that Ben was dead.
Have you ever 'missed' an author? You're aware of their books, know that they're well-regarded and have even had a book made into a film, but somehow the time, the opportunity to read their work has never presented itself? That's what had happened to me with Susan Hill, so when In the Springtime of the Year found its way to my desk I decided to find out what I had been missing. It would be a true test too - this book was originally published in 1973. Had it simply been reissued to take advantage of the movie success of The Woman in Black?
I need not have worried. Within pages I knew I was in the hands of a masterly writer. Initially we know little of what has happened to Ben - Ruth didn't want to know and wasn't capable of dealing with details of his injuries until many months later. She couldn't cope with viewing the body before the closing of the coffin, which fuelled her mother-in-law's assertion that she was cold and unfeeling and had cared little for her son. There was just one member of the Bryce family who did reach out to Ruth and that's Jo - Ben's younger brother. He was barely in his teens but had the sensitivity to know what help Ruth needed or when she simply needed to know that there was someone there for her.
It's an exquisite exploration of love and of grief and the way in which we mourn. I was surprised to find the book uplifting and life-affirming rather than depressing. Hill captures the swings of grief, the occasional exhilaration and happiness which is a bitter-sweet counterpoint to the depths of knowing that you have lost the person you loved beyond everything else. Ruth and Jo followed the local tradition of dressing the grave on Easter Saturday and I've returned to this chapter several times for its insight, subtle use of colours to enhance the mood and sense that even just weeks after Ben's death Ruth was capable of feeling joy.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
If this book appeals then you might like to try The Road Home by Rose Tremain.
You can read more book reviews or buy In the Springtime of the Year by Susan Hill at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy In the Springtime of the Year by Susan Hill at Amazon.com.
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Claire McAlpine said:
I just finished reading this and feel the same way, I only discovered Suasn Hill in 2011 and each book since then has just confirmed what a brilliant observer of life she is and how masterful with words, I adore immersing myself in the pages she writes whether it is a journey through a young woman's grief or an intriguing ghost story.
I am looking forward to reading her Howard's End is on the Landing as well, to hear the voice of the woman herself and not just the imagined characters that she manifests so well.