An End to Autumn
By Iain Crichton Smith
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Tom and Vera Mallow, who are in only their early thirties, might indeed be said to be in the autumn of their lives already, they are school teachers, both of them, but without any strong feeling for children, and without nay children of their own. Their outlook is wary; they hold themselves apart. When they invite Tom's mother to share their home, they do so from a sense of duty rather than love.But after autumn, we find, comes summer; and it is the mothers – Tom's and, later Vera's – who in surprising ways reverse the march of the seasons: Mrs Mallow as irritant, with her incongruous friendship with Mrs Murphy, a Catholic and of a lower social class; and then Angela, the vivacious ex-actress, from the a different world, to provide catharsis. Here is a sympathetic and unusual study of a marriage that, surprisingly and against the odds, takes the right turning; though lest anyone should feel that Crichton Smith is succumbing to sentiment, the novel's last page echoes the veiled foreboding of it first. Once again he reminds us, with oblique irony, of the poet lurking behind the novelist,
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