Peter Ackroyd First Light

ISBN 13: 9780140171150

First Light

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9780140171150: First Light

Written by the author of "Hawksmoor", winner of the Whitbread Prize for Fiction, and "Chatterton", this is a pastoral novel of the late 20th century in which the author meditates on the nature of history, the problem of time and the true qualities of the English landscape.

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Review:

First Light is not the darkest of Peter Ackroyd's novels (Hawksmoor has that honor), but fans of the macabre will relish its exhilarating combination of cosmic awe, ancient beings, and creepy underground tunnels, in a humorous suspense story as cleverly paced as a Hitchcock thriller. The story is that the excavation of a neolithic, astronomically aligned grave under the pastoral hills of Dorset, England, coincides with the startling reappearance of ancient stars (including H. P. Lovecraft's Aldebaran) in the night sky. A group of deliciously eccentric characters--archaeologists, astronomers, a stuffy civil servant, a stand-up comic, and vaguely menacing local villagers--converge at the site and collide with each other. As Gabriele Annan wrote in the London Sunday Telegraph, "Ackroyd is such a master of mood, of tension, angst, foreboding, frisson, but also of tenderness and exultation, that one is drawn into his tale as by a magus."

From Publishers Weekly:

T. S. Eliot biographer and novelist Ackroyd ( Chatterton ) again delivers a fascinatingly ambiguous tale. The discovery of a neolithic grave site on the Devon-Dorset border attracts an assortment of archeologists, astronomers and indigenous characters. Each has his own agenda, from archeologist Mark Clare, hoping to prove a maverick theory, to Joey Hanover, a show-biz character who happens along in search of his roots. Astronomer Damien Fall may have discovered something astonishing, and the exceedingly peculiar Farmer Mint and his idiot savant son, Boy Mint, may hold more cards in this game than anyone knows. The novel is carefully imbued with several ominous portents that lead nowhere, but the tone is so deliciously creepy that it doesn't matter. Ackroyd's sly humor is beguiling; he has given some of the best lines to a lesbian couple and Joey's malaprop wife. (" 'Look at those kikes,' Florey Hanover was saying to her husband. 'Dressed like Winston Churchill.' 'Dykes, dear.' ") Silliness and illumination fit together perfectly in this amusing, eccentric and provocative novel.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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