Mark Valentine




A book pre-ordered a month or two ago.

Novellas separately by John Howard and Mark Valentine.

My previous reviews of these authors: and of this publisher:

When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

12 responses to “Mark Valentine

    by Mark Valentine

    Read up to 2nd * in I

    A matchlessly Valentinal, charmingly witty and astute, seemingly mid twentieth century (or earlier) start to this work where two gentlemanly gentlemen, one the narrator, the other Alban Talmadge, plan to go on holiday by what they usually do, sticking a pin in something at random (as I once did to Clun, Salop, for my honeymoon in 1970). Here, Talmadge’s job in a published weather magazine and the letters he gets about weather phenomena represent, as it were, the hat from which they pull their destination. This start — that also involves backstory reincarnations, even Merlin et al — incredibly seems so far to resonate with my concurrent review of the Weathermakers in the Son of Williams’ book ‘Queen of Clouds’ (here), a book that at times significantly resonated with the John Howard work that preceded the Valentine one in this Sarob book!

  2. Read up to the end of I

    The country flowing by in a charmingly described journey of the two men on a railway’s branch line into the Malvern Hills, as if the countryside “…actually did ripple, as though it might have been a vast vivid green banner stirred by the wind.” And this work is unmissable vintage Valentine with idiosyncratic characters, say, a reference to an artist who perpetrates cubist pictures of fireworks, and such as their landlady Kate in a house called Kites who sells almost prehensile kites with painted faces, a concept inadvertently worthy of the ‘conscious winds’ in the, by chance, concurrent Queen of Clouds? A mention of the East Wind later with the pronoun of ‘he’ seems to help this comparison. And a character who mystically believes in the Otherworldly et al, in the house with breathtaking roofwork and tower but equally ‘brooding’ as it’s breathtaking, I guess, a broodingness as indicated in the randomly chosen weather report they are following for their holiday. They naturally wonder if there are any wind dials on the roof, whatever any “fissure in the immaculate façade” of its owner, and his aspersions as to a stolen book. Much else in addition for me to report in this work, given sufficient breath to report it to you and your patience in reading more than is good for you about this Valentine work before you read it for yourself! So, I’ll try to be more abstemious in the future. No spoilers yet, I assure you.

  3. II

    “Then in the stifling air of that day I nevertheless felt a distinct brittleness, as if a sharp fissure had cracked open all in the moment.”

    More example precincts of brooding weather as if each betokens a pent up storm in the small areas of various places, each broodingness accompanied by a theft. Interesting detective work by the narrator as Talmadge switches magazines to a Merlin Almanac which event I initially thought was a plot’s screech of brakes to renew itself into something quite other, until I realised that we were not finished with the initial plot at all! Various characters, even camels, continue in this engaging mystery of a tale worthy of inclusion in the type of magazine that Talmadge might one day feel able to edit assuming, as I perhaps mistakenly do, that he would be highly adept in publishing such readable fictions as this one.

  4. Later…


    “‘It has a long sweet draw. […] …the arrow halts time, and it was sent from this world to another.’”

    The Yew Bow of Eydon, a most wonderful example of the Valentine syndrome of both light and dark, this world and that other — ‘arms of darkness’ arising from the very ink of the papered print I am reading, as I follow the narrator on this path of almost Chestertonian detective work at what is being stolen one by one from each Valentine county genius-loci to genius-loci, Cinderella county or not, as he mixes into the midst of a civilised melee of tennis whites, man and woman who happen to be those he seeks, then eating oozing crumpets — and a vitiating broodingness that has an ‘elemental force of winds’ pent up as well as sullen darkness swelling, and then subsuming a cottage towards which world, this or that? Beautifully couched prose, too.

  5. IV

    “…the wind chased cloud shadows… […] The next day was even fuller of strengthening winds and cantering clouds…”

    “The rankling crackled through the paper.”

    This incredible, now today’s time-resistless, character-amazy denouement of mayhem into satisfying and almost peaceful resolution of who has done what and who now writes or reads what amid the ritual emergences of talismans and tally-folk and of what I have always believed as synchronicities and not causes-and-effects, say, astrology, reincarnations, ley-line maps, as well as my findings in various sacred spots in this country in the past of my pre- old age, resolving and making me NOW think things have a different broodingness around me, about to nuclearise into an insidious storm of a different mayhem, instead of this Valentinal creativity of imaginative, if equally real, masquerade of magical words and events, caricatures and grotesque implications, where fiction truth is far preferable to any basic horror-without-fiction that faces us outside such inner truth. We are all kites in a fouler wind. Strange, though, that there is a Major as well as a Private Williams as major characters in another, quite different, but equally ‘mad’ book I have synchronously been (still am) reviewing (here) alongside this truly great Howard / Valentine book. But that surely must be simple madness for me to mention, but I do feel in tune with Miss Gibbons, until I was cut off…

    “…all colours of ink and many variations of handwriting, from the very neat and precise to huge characters festooned with capital letters and exclamations marks. ‘I feel almost overwhelmed’, she said, ‘I have just glanced at them and “received” their import, but one must not neglect them. They need proper attention. One never knows which of them might be of the utmost importance. It was only because I sifted through so carefully…’”


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