The Winter Swan by Sam Youd.
The SYLE Press, 2018 (1949)
Beyond the windows the grey, immense afternoon folded like a cloth across the quiet square, the railed-in trees and the glimpse of meticulous grass. A carriage clipped along the road, its miniature thunder trailed flamboyantly before and after it. When it had gone the clock in the corner of the room ticked more distinctly, marking off the seconds, scratching in the odd corners of infinity.Chapter Twelve
1949. Rosemary Hallam is buried as the thawing snow starts slipping off the church roof, Cedic Garland her only mourner. Somewhere, somehow, her consciousness drifts into those odd corners of infinity, pausing at key moments in her life, seeing herself as others saw her: she becomes, in death more than in life, “a spy, a reluctant, bewildered eavesdropper on the lives of others.”
Sam Youd’s debut novel, begun when he was only 24 and completed a mere matter of months later, is an assured, lyrical and wise work. In revealing both the agonies and joys of its characters it underlines what the author identified as its main theme — that “relationships matter more than anything and spiritual isolation is hell” — an axiom that remains as pertinent to us now as it did then to the author.
Yet Rosemary, its principal character, does seem spiritually isolated, whether because, orphaned at 13, she has determined not to be bullied by life or whether she is by nature calm and unruffled or, as others mostly see her, cool and aloof. Her last admirer, Cedric, is reminded of a serene swan riding effortlessly over waves; during the course of this novel we get to see how troubled those waves were.Continue reading “Cool and aloof”