Teaser Tuesdays – Gone To Earth

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be ReadingShare a couple or more sentences from the book you’re currently reading.

I’m currently reading Gone To Earth by Mary Webb. It’s an old book, originally published in 1917. My copy, a sturdy hardback, belonged to my mother and was published in 1935 and has an introduction by John Buchan (who was Lord Tweedsmuir, politician and author – his most famous book being The Thirty Nine Steps, a spy thriller). His introduction is masterly. He describes what he likes about the book, sets the scene, and discusses Mary Webb’s style of writing:

The style as in all Mary Webb’s books, is impregnated with poetry, rising sometimes to the tenuous delicacy of music, but never sinking to ‘poetic prose’. There are moments when it seems to me superheated, when her passion for metaphor makes the writing too high-pitched and strained. But no one of our day has a greater power of evoking natural magic. (page 9)

And here is a passage from the opening chapter of the book:

Between the larch boles and under the thickets of honeysuckle and blackberry came a tawny silent form, wearing with the calm dignity of woodland creatures a beauty of eye and limb, a brilliance of tint, that few women could have worn without self-conciousness. Clear-eyed, lithe, it stood for a moment in the full sunlight – a year-old fox, round headed and velvet-footed. Then it slid into the shadows. (page 11)

Gone To Earth is still in print, in a paperback edition published by Virago Press Ltd in 1992, with a longer introduction by Erika Duncan, including biographical details of Mary Webb’s tragic life.

9 thoughts on “Teaser Tuesdays – Gone To Earth

  1. The language and imagery is almost hypnotically evocative. Have to take a look at this one, especially since I tend to enjoy titles re-released by Virago.

    I love that you are reading your mother’s book. One of my fondest book memories is my mother unearthing a boxful of of her childhood favourites one rainy evening and giving them to me. I was nine or ten, and both startled and thrilled to discover, through those books, that as a little girl she loved exactly the same types of books I did. That box bonded us even closer, and still works its magic through the conversations about books we have enjoyed ever since.


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