The Quickening Maze: A Novel
The Quickening Maze: A Novel
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“It has been a while since I have read a book as richly sown with beauty . . . A remarkable work, remarkable for the precision and vitality of its perceptions and for the successful intricacy of its prose.” —James Wood, The New Yorker
A visionary novel by "one of the most talented writers of his generation"—The Times Literary Supplement
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize
Based on real events, The Quickening Maze won over UK critics and readers alike with its rapturous prose and vivid exploration of poetry and madness. Historically accurate yet brilliantly imagined, this is the debut publication of this elegant and riveting novel in the United States.
In 1837, after years of struggling with alcoholism and depression, the great nature poet John Clare finds himself in High Beach—a mental institution located in Epping Forest on the outskirts of London. It is not long before another famed writer, the young Alfred Tennyson, moves nearby and grows entwined in the catastrophic schemes of the hospital's owner, the peculiar Dr. Matthew Allen, his lonely adolescent daughter, and a coterie of mysterious local characters. With lyrical grace, the cloistered world of High Beach and its residents are brought richly to life in this enchanting book.
tear at and smooth soft fat.There was no harm in eating the deer, to John’s mind: they kept themselves; there were many in the forest.They flowed unnumbered through the shadows. Afterwards there was more drink and music while bats, in their last flights of the year, flickered overhead. John proved his claim to know their music when he accepted a fiddle from them. He played Northamptonshire tunes and gypsy tunes. He played one that circled like a merry-go-round and lifted them all smiling on its
even she knew he’d been told not to do that. He looked round sharply at the sound of her footsteps just after he’d launched one. It couldn’t be stopped: their eyes met at the moment it plopped in and slow circles widened across the green water. It was only the child, though. He smiled naughtily at her, knowing she wouldn’t tell. She ran round the corner past Mr Stockdale the attendant whom she did not like. He was large and strict and when he tried to play with her it was not meant, not meant
She would not have had the clutter of her family around her, not at first, and she would have happened by at the right moment, or at least could have easily dissembled her preceding vigilance. She could have been a solitary, attractive girl of seventeen, a wood nymph even, discovered in her wandering. She stared along the road as far as she could: it turned sharply to the right a little way ahead and the forest cut off the view down the hill.Through the trees she felt them approaching, an event
stared with naked disgust at the sad gazes that met his, said nothing and went out, slamming the door. Swish of leaves, of strong drink. One of them idly compressing a squeezebox, not playing, but pushing out a few quiet notes.The broth with hare’s meat hung over the fire, bubbles lumping up to the surface. And opposite, a row of the girls deft with short knives cutting pegs to sell, quick as coring apples. Judith was telling him of the two missing men. ‘Said we’s an atrocious tribe and
his arms. Do we all know what we’re doing?’ ‘Yes, doctor,’ Saunders answered.The others nodded. ‘Very good. In you go.’ Saunders unlocked the door, lifted the latch.‘Ready?’ he asked, and then the four of them strode in. Fulton stood behind his father’s shoulder and watched the struggle. Mr Francombe, after a volley of oaths, began roaring and bleating as he fought. His effort of violence was extraordinary. Saunders and Stockdale were flung back and forth as he kicked.The other two twisted