Monday, July 08, 2013

H. E. Bates. The Triple Echo (1970)

     H. E. Bates. The Triple Echo (1970) Another book I didn’t finish (although I did read the final episode). Alice, a farmer’s wife alone during WW2, takes in Barton, a deserter. Inevitably, the MP catch up with them. She shoots her lover and his captor as they approach the house. Bates’ attempt at writing a D. H. Lawrence love tragedy, perhaps. In any case, the prose, while sufficient for the job, doesn’t rise above the ordinary. The characters are well enough drawn to attract interest, but not to sustain it.
     I’m tired of these gloomily passionate stories. They seem to me to be a sort of slumming. These people don’t deserve their fate, and absent the war, they would have managed to disentangle the woman from her marriage and live more or less happily ever after. It’s the soldier’s refusal to return from leave that precipitates the deception and the final hunt, so I suppose Bates may intend this novelette to be his anti-war story. As such, it would have had relevance when it was published, at the Vietnam war’s inglorious winding down, but now it is, as the academics say, of scholarly interest only. The cover photo shows Glenda Jackson in the role of Alice; Michael Apted is named as director. I suspect that the film is quite good; weak books often make good movies. * (2006)

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