Here comes the Man Booker longlist again. With an eclectic list of authors from around the world, it's refreshing to see that three out of the thirteen on the list are debut novelists, and more than half of them are women. All these novelists have the freedom to write about what's closest to their hearts - something that would not have been possible in pre-war Britain.
This week I visited Carnforth Railway Station in Lancashire where Noel Coward's legendary Brief Encounter was filmed in 1945. This film was based on a one-act play entitled Still Life, written in 1936, which tells us more about forbidden love than anything else produced at the time.
The story follows a brief illicit affair between two married people, an affair that is doomed from the beginning. Particularly poignant is the widely-held belief that Coward was writing about his own homosexuality in a world where he, too, was unable to love freely.The choice of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No 2 to evoke these sentiments was, to my mind, an act of genius.
In an article on the Noel Coward Foundation website it says, 'Can many of us go through a lifetime without meeting someone and feeling a spark of recognition that we shouldn't, an attraction that goes beyond the physical? What a terrible world it would be if our emotions and psyches were amputated at the altar (of marriage.) Heavy stuff.
The screenplay itself covers less than seventy pages. Which proves, as always that content (quality)is far more important than quantity. In the current Booker shortlist Colm Toibin's The Testament of Mary is a mere 112 pages, as opposed to Richard House's 912-page tome The Kills. I wonder if that's an omen? We shall have to wait and see.
The shortlist will be announced by September 10 and the winner declared on October 15.
|From the refreshment room at Carnforth Station - the fictional Milford Junction with|
Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson