Gosh, this was a lovely book. Tom Birken, a World War I survivor,
takes a month-long job in the country north of London to clean up
a long-hidden mural of artwork in the attic of a country church.
The simple quiet life of the village of Oxgodby is just what his nerves
need, and the uncovering of the medieval painting is described in most
luscious tones. Early on, he uncovers a bit of a blue robe on a figure–
“And, as the first tinges of garment appeared, that prince of blues,
ultramarine ground with lapis lazuli, began to show . . .”
Gradually he becomes acquainted with the small population in the
village. One of my favorite sections is where he is talked into leading
a Sunday School class, and later where he fills in for an ailing preacher
to deliver a Sunday service. He seems an unlikely candidate for either
It is 1920 and his month in the country gives him a turning point for facing the turmoil in his marriage, and for facing the feeling of relief and guilt at the unbelievable miracle of his survival in the war.
Eighty-five pages worth their weight in gold–and well worth a few hours of
Three button review: