Mr Golightly's Holiday
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COMMENTS FROM READING GROUPS AND BOOK CLUB MEMBERS
'In her first novel, MISS GARNET'S
ANGEL, Salley Vickers defied the current dictats of
publishing and delighted readers by demonstrating that
a book with serious themes can be both accessible and
popular. With subtle skill she wove together a woman's
late discovery of her inner life with the timeless and
mysterious Apocryphal story of the quest of Tobias.
In MR GOLIGHTLY'S HOLIDAY she is even more daring. The
story is - in Dante's sense - a Divine Comedy within
a modern setting. Balancing profundity with wit and
intensity with delicacy of touch, she explores the relationships
between life and death, between loss and fulfilment,
between sin and redemption. Above all, her novel resonates
with a quiet and haunting joy.'
Ann Swinfen, Dundee
'It has been a while since I
so enjoyed reading any novel and so regretted reaching
its end. Salley Vickers illuminates the human condition
with optimism, gentle humour and genuine empathy.
The comedy and tragedy of everyday
life is deftly inter-woven with lyrical descriptions
of the natural world, believable dialogue and characterisation,
making credible the central character of Mr Golightly.
This book is that rare thing,
a thought-provoking literary novel executed with the
lightest touch. Sadness at turning the final pages is
tempered by the sure knowledge that this is the first
of several readings. I can look forward to reading it
again ... and again.'
Helen Issac, Watford,
'I found this book almost unbearably sad and yet, at
the same time, full of hope. so that these emotions
mingled and combined. William Blake said "Joy and
woe are woven fine" and in the book Salley Vickers
quotes Blake's "A robin redbreast in a cage/ Puts
all heaven in a rage". It is a book which is very
Blakean, both in its apparent simplicity and its penetrating
truths about the human heart. It is also, which is unusual
for books which are moving, very funny. Quite unlike
anything I have read before.'
'This is a book that will sell
itself by word of mouth, much as MISS GARNET did. Book
groups will love the multi-layered story of this modern
day fable. There is much to discuss. I highly recommend
Anne Frost, Shepherton,
'MR GOLIGHTLY'S HOLIDAY is a
book which delights, intrigues, fascinates and which
gives the reader a warm feeling. But saying that it
is not a cosy or easy read. The book makes the reader
ask many questions, some of them unanswerable.
With a richness of language,
beautiful descriptive passages, thought-provoking narrative
and characters who are totally believable, it is perfect
for readers' clubs as there is so much for discussion.'
P.E. Gall, March, Camb.
'Readers of Salley Vickers's
two previous novels, will know from the start that this
is likely to be more than 'an everyday story of country
folk' or an entertaining comedy of manners. Indeed,
as the story progresses, it becomes clear that there
is a much deeper meaning. Ms Vickers, under the guise
of a simple narrative, treats the big themes of life
and death, love, good and evil. The novel runs from
March to June and the changes in the countryside and
the wildlife are lovingly portrayed.
This is a very enjoyable novel.
It is, initially, a pleasant read, but more deeply is
a multi-layered fable. offering much for a group to
Margaret Tinsley, St
'A superb read. I couldn't put
it down but didn't want to finish it and I will definitely
read it again soon.
The book took hold of me in
the first chapter when you view the arrival of the visitor
through different villagers' eyes. I was immediately
drawn to Johnny Spence and the developing friendship
between him and Mr Golightly. The book doesn't so much
centre on Mr Golightly but is about the adaptation and
change in the villagers' lives due in some way to his
influence and personality.
The novel is multi-layered and
is a rich blend of interweaving personal stories with
connecting themes. It would be an excellent choice for
a readers' group. I would recommend it to anyone of
Alyson Scarlett, Wakefield,
'Salley Vickers has a talent
for up-to-date detail, so the modern reader has much
to relate to. The emotions described are true, these
things people experience from day to day.'
Linda Simmons, Yarnton,
'This novel is brilliant for reading groups. There is
much for discussion on whatever level you take the story.
It deserves to be read at least twice for full appreciation
of its joys.'
Alison Brice, Horley,
'Salley Vickers is a writer
with exceptional abilities. Her stories hold the reader's
attention from page one. Her range and use of words
are a delight. The emotion is there for all to feel;
reading her descriptions, it is easy to see the beauty
of a summer dawn, the mist on the hills. I enjoyed MISS
GARNET'S ANGEL but MR GOLIGHTLY'S HOLIDAY was one great
Eileen Fox, Gosport.
'I was engrossed from the first
and found the book absorbing and very cleverly written
right up to the last.'
Sandra Ford, Milford,
'As one who admires the multiple
strands of plot, characters etc. of really good soap
operas I was agog at the skill with which Salley Vickers
deploys the genre in a fantastically deft and unobtrusive
way to produce a novel that's both moving and completely
Many people can write books
that have those qualities, but the difference here is
that Vickers's novel works at the level of the sentence.
Over and over again, I found myself savouring the individual
groups of words, admiring the way the whole thing was
put together and also the way the enormous body of knowledge
she has at her disposal is never rammed down your throat.
All the allusions are there if you can/want to pick
them up, but you wouldn't feel a fool if you didn't
get them all, nor would your enjoyment of the novel
suffer in any way.
I liked MISS GARNET'S ANGEL
- but this one is divine!'
Adele Geras, Manchester
'This novel starts strongly
and hooks the reader in the first few pages. The structure
is clever and it is satisfying the way several strands
come together at the end. The book is full of interesting
and convincing characters. An intelligent book and a
very good read'
Brian Strudwick, Huddersfield
'The author skilfully draws
the reader into the life of Great Calne and straight
away I was turning the pages, intrigued by the characters
and enjoying the story. But I wasn't prepared for how
much the book was going to make me think. It can be
read on so many levels. I approached it as a well-written
village novel, but it soon proved to be far more than
Mr Golightly himself is a magnificent
creation. The mystery of his son's death is a powerful
narrative hook. At first I couldn't believe what was
happening, but gradually it became clearer and now I
can't wait to re-consider the beginning of the book
in the light of these revelations.
I very seldom re-read contemporary
novels but this one is definitely worth re-reading.
I imagine it would engender a lively discussion in any
readers' group and I look forward to recommending it
Juliet Bromley, Winterbourne
'A true enigma which would spark
a lively debate within a reading group. Full marks to
Salley Vickers. I cannot wait to read her other novels.'
Doris Shiels, Norfolk
'An immensely enjoyable read
and I felt like reading it again straight away to find
all the references that I had missed the first time.
Vickers comes across as an intelligent and imaginative
author; her books are easy to read but also thought
provoking. This is her best so far.'
I found the book a real page
turner. When one scene ended and another took over I
couldn't wait to get to the next episode from the former.
When you have to put it down (e.g. to answer the phone
or door) you feel it as an intrusion - just like Mr
Golightly - even if you're pleased to hear from the
Linda Bolton, Banbury,
'The book manages to be hopeful
and heartwarming without being banal as so many "sunny"
books are. It is a reminder that good literature doesn't
have to be depressing, and is a thought provoking meditation
on love which I am already looking forward to re-reading.
Sarah Chaffe, Mickleover,
'An unusual story though it
starts conventionally enough. The plot twists from the
superficial to the profound - sometimes quite unexpectedly.
Salley Vickers explains at the end of the book her view
of the thin line between tragedy and comedy and this
gives the book its interest - we cannot pigeon-hole
it but become intrigued by the deeper truths it tries
It is also a refreshing affirmation
of the innate goodness and kindness of humanity, even
in the face of adversity, but without the style ever
Stella Thebridge, Sutton
'The prose is superb, as one
has come to expect from this author. This is a book
I shall re-read. It is a strange book but a magical
one which, once read, will not be quickly forgotten.'
Frances Kennedy, Shenstone,
'A book about love and loss:
but not that slushy love so beloved of some fiction
writers. This is a love which allows each person the
space to be their own self.
Salley Vickers develops her
characters well. These are real people, with genuine
problems and joys. I read this book easily, but there
is a level of underlying profundity which makes it much
more than a beach read.'
The Rev, Sarah Hillman,
'"Go placidly amid the
noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be
in silence. As far as possible without surrender be
on good terms with all persons..."
I was reminded of this 1692 DESIDERATA when reading
MR GOLIGHTLY'S HOLIDAY.
I liked the father/son relationship
between Mr Golightly and Johnny Spence with Johnny replacing
Mr Golightly's dead son. As with MISS GARNET'S ANGEL,
we have a death at the end of this book. Mr Golightly
helps to change the life of one of his main characters
(Johnny) but the other (Ellen) dies in tragic circumstances.
And That's How Life Is.'
Carol Gorton, Stoke-on-Trent
'Vivid and vibrant descriptions.
One could smell the mists rolling over the moor and
see the birds in flight. '
Jayne Roper, Longfield,
'I didn't see the end coming.
It hit me with quite a jolt. There were one or two clues
along the way, but nothing that gave the game away.
I have only praise for this
book. A lovely story, and an unexpected and quite thrilling
ending. Highly recommended.'
Val James, Upminster,
'Salley Vickers has chosen the
beautiful countryside of Devon as the setting for her
latest book and it is with a true sense of escapism
that the novel opens with Mr Golightly driving into
the village for his holiday.
But this is not a soap opera.
The story is like a gossamer web, light and intricate,
but strong. Into it is woven folklore, poetry and Biblical
references mixed with earthy reality and all the complexity
of human relationship. But it is in the dialogue that
the story comes alive, for Vickers has a sharp wit and
a fine command of language.
Mr Golightly is a man with a
hidden sorrow in his life, the death of his son, and
the real significance of this becomes clear in the unexpected
ending, which first comes as a surprise - and then seems
the inevitable and satisfying conclusion.'
Rosemary Dowie, Weston-Super-Mare
'The landscape and animals are
described with a painterly expertise, depicting colours,
light, movement and moods. Images of birds present a
picturesque and dream-like foil to the human world.
Characters are described in
ways which demonstrate their own natural speech and
digressive thoughts. There are many thoroughly enjoyable
contrasts within the novel: material/spiritual; stereotypes/complexity
of human nature; reality/dream; reason/superstition;
Altogether a very enjoyable
book: a humorous and lighthearted look at humanity with
nevertheless some profound considerations. A rich novel
with many strands which would certainly be worth reading
more than once.'
Daphne Jones, Darlington,
'I've loved all Salley Vickers's
novels but none more than this one. Dazzlingly clever,
funny and unusually kind.'
Stuart Powell, Oxford