this is among my favourite novels. every time i read it i am just as struck by its harmonious discord as i was the first time. this story is, to me, a perversely uneven amalgam of apocalypse, drawing room comedy, and creepy, gothic haunted-house tale. i think i only like the book more for the fact that the pieces don't quite fit together, and the scene that scares me the most isn't the one i'd expect; though there are several claustrophobic and uncomfortable moments in the sundial, and i always smile at the dialogue in this novel, for me, some of shirley's wittiest writing. it almost feels like oscar wilde briefly inhabited her mind when she wrote this book because the characters are so pert, and alive, that even when they are cruel, or shallow, or stupid, i am fond of them. the drunk villagers are a joy each time, and i am as foolishly in love with essex as ever i was, though i know he is a cad.
people i have loaned it to never seem to like this book as much as i do; perhaps it is because i am a crooked and misbegotten as it is. several found fault with the ending which makes me perfectly content -- the ending they want i think would have to be a whole other book. i find everything i want in a book here: poetry, and confusion, loneliness, and fear, and the waiting for something bigger than yourself, so that you don't have to think about yourself, or what the point is, anymore.
thank you shirley, for leaving me stories that understand me so well.