On The Black Hill pdf epub – Sisnlaw.co.uk


On The Black Hill This one blew me away So simple so complex So small so big I finished it a week ago, but I ve been holding off on reviewing it until I could find the right words I still haven t Until I do, I ll just leave these stars here and tell you this is one is pure gold. At the start, On The Black Hill immediately attracted me The prose is what drew me I liked how what we were being told was expressed The descriptions of places, people and things are well done We are told, for example, that the village where the story is set is located on the border between Wales and Herefordshire, England, and that the borderline passes right through the middle of houses What a great way of saying that the town has a cultural mix.The story is about identical twins Lewis is At the start, On The Black Hill immediately attracted me The prose is what drew me I liked how what we were being told was expressed The descriptions of places, people and things are well done We are told, for example, that the village where the story is set is located on the border between Wales and Herefordshire, England, and that the borderline passes right through the middle of houses What a great way of saying that the town has a cultural mix.The story is about identical twins Lewis is the one a few seconds older, a little bitdominant, a little bitof an extrovert He is not satisfied to just sit at home Girls tantalize him Benjamin is the other twin It is he who is the homebody and it is he whom is favored by their beloved mother We learn about the twins grandparents first and then their father and mother It is indicated at the start that the twins are now in their eighties and that they were born at the turn of the 20th century Immediately I was intrigued by the twins mother she had traveled and spent time in the Middle East and India What was she doing here, married into a rather ordinary family of Welsh ancestry My interest was piqued I wanted to know.The story is then told as a flashback sometimes skipping years, until we are again at the present with Lewis and Benjamin eighty The book is about being identical twins It is also about life in a remote, rural, agricultural, Welsh English community during the 20th century It shows the passage of time and how world events play out in the village and the area As such, it is a book of historical fiction.That stated above is undisputable The problem is that questions arise as to what conclusions the author is attempting to draw I am befuddled I do not know what Bruce Chatwin is trying to say One is pulled in different directions Is he saying something about religion Perhaps that is not his intention at all What is he saying about the modernization of society Or about the two world wars Or pacifism Is he saying something about urban versus small town lifestyles Or is he just plain drawing how the events of the 20th century played out in this community, and nothingMaybe he is not trying to say anything else Perhaps there is absolutely no need to analyze the question further In any case, it seems to me that he is critical in his assessment of the townspeople and of the human race in general Chatwin hints at a possible homosexual attraction between Benjamin and Lewis For me, the story circlesaround the ability of identical twins to read each other s thoughts and feelings than homosexuality per se When Lewis and Benjamin were young, they had difficulty grasping the words yours versus mine For them the two words meant the same thing The brothers saw themselves as one, indivisible from each other We are told, Because they knew each other s thoughts, they even quarreled without speaking I do not think Chatwin was inferring homosexuaity One can perhaps play with the idea that all people have male and female characteristics within them, and just leave it at that As with the other unresolved issues, what Chatwin is actually saying is not clear I am somewhat disappointed Even if I do like how Chatwin puts together his words, the story itself is too loose ended, half baked What Chatwin is trying to say with this story is too diffuse Ultimately, is the story about the 20th century or is it about being a twin Has the bond between them been a blessing or a curse At the book s end Lewis is most happy view spoiler sitting upon his brother s gravestone On his 80th birthday, he had finally flown a plane and there was someone, the progeny of the twins great nephew, to whom their land and their home could be left hide spoiler When we have become old, is this what matters most Writing this review has helped me sort out my thoughts Maybe, maybe, the book could be worth three stars..but just maybe I am leaving my rating at two It isOK, than good.Steffan Rhodri narrates the audiobook He uses different intonations for different characters, and he does this well, but I personally prefer less dramatization I have given the narration three stars I believe others may like itthan me Do keep in mind though that Bruce Chatwin was homosexual He died in 1989 from AIDS On The Black Hill 2 stars In Patagonia 2 stars A warm hearted and somewhat bleak tale of identical twin brothers, Benjamin and Lewis, living out their lives together on a rural farm on the border of Wales and England The initial scenes of their comfortable routines in their 80 s are followed by a step back to the origin of their lives soon after the marriage of their parents at the end of the 19th century They settle into the life of tenant sheep farmers, fixing up an old farmhouse they call The Vision close by the beautiful Black Hill A warm hearted and somewhat bleak tale of identical twin brothers, Benjamin and Lewis, living out their lives together on a rural farm on the border of Wales and England The initial scenes of their comfortable routines in their 80 s are followed by a step back to the origin of their lives soon after the marriage of their parents at the end of the 19th century They settle into the life of tenant sheep farmers, fixing up an old farmhouse they call The Vision close by the beautiful Black Hill.We get a vision of an idyllic life for the twins growing up on this farm, which they would almost never leave Lewis isphysical and likes girls Benjamin wassensitive and spiritual, loves to tend to the lambs and wants only to be with Lewis forever The light would literally go out of his eyes when separated from Lewis They are almost separated when Lewis falls for a local girl and when Benjamin gets drafted for the Great War, but fate seems to intercede Their father, before he dies, works out a way to purchase the farm With Lewis brawn and Benjamin s talent for business, they make a go of keeping their little paradise going despite any upheavals in the distant world After their mother dies, they keep everything in the house the same Their main concession to changing times is to adopt a tractor for plowing Thus the tale is a bit of a fairy tale of resilience to change and keeping family bonds alive and the life of a place called home forever I was moved by the little dramas in their life and that of villagers in their community I mentally place this book among other admired stories that I consider biography of place I loved Chatwin s effortless capturing of the rhythms of nature at the farm, as here reflected in the senses of the twins mother Mary The winter was hard From January to April the snow never melted off the hill and the frozen leaves of foxgloves drooped like dead donkeys ears Every morning she peered from the bedroom window to see if the larches were black or crisped with rime The animals were silent in the deep cold, and the chatter of the sewing machine could be heard as far as the lambing paddock.I loved the subtle humor bordering on satire about class relations For example, Mrs Bickerton was a frail fair skinned woman in her later thirties As a girl, she had devoted herself to painting, and had lived in Florence Then, when her talent seemed to desert her, she married a handsome but brainless cavalry officer, possibly for his collection of Old Masters, possibly to annoy her artist friends I like the Welsh, Mrs, Bickerton went on But they do seem to get so angry, later It must be to do with the climate The twin s father Amos does harbor a temper bottled up inside his inarticulate self At first, he kept in check, along with his tender feelings He treated her as a fragile object that had come by chance into his possession and might easily break in his hands He was terrified of hurting her, or letting his hot blood carry him away The sight of her whalebone corset was enough to unman him completely.But Mary s attempts at creativity and cooking based on her readings did not fare well For his constipation, she began to plan for some healthy vegetables in the garden But when she suggested planting an asparagus bed, he flew into a towering rage Who did she think she was Did she think she d married into the gentry The crisis came when she experimented with a mild Indian curry He took one mouthful and spat it out I want none of your filthy Indian food, he snarled, and smashed the serving dish on the floor.Almost all my friends on Goodreads rate this book higher But my B rating is relative to the wonderful books on rural life and coming of age that I have sought out, driven in part by my origins from a place in Oklahoma where our nearest neighbor was a mile away Among these other reads I am most attracted to ones that capture the necessary personal transformations or the surpassing of hardships that make one capable of dealing with the larger adult world Just as with a rare book on utopia, a tale devoted to preservation of the good life hooks me less than ones where the character must deal with a dystopian society or a dysfunctional family through a pathway of tough moral choices An example of such a book for me is McMurtry s The Last Picture Show The nostalgia aspects of this book are close to that of My Antonia and Jayber Crow , but the former excels for me by incorporatingpersonal change and the latter by capturing the vitality of a community The closest in plot is Haruf s Plainsong , which also features a pair of bachelor farmer brothers, but their taking in a pregnant teenager opens the door to substantial change in their lives.This book was provided by the publisher as an e book through the Netgalley program I ve never read Chatwin before but his name immediately brings to my mind voyages and creates beguiling images of distant lands Meanwhile inOn the Black Hillwe receive ordinary though unusual in its simplicity story, set on the farm called The Vision on the english wales border Chatwin effortlessly and with great charm and discreet humor painted hymn to the unchanging rhythm of life, hard work and carefully cultivated Welsh separateness With keen eye described the small, closed communi I ve never read Chatwin before but his name immediately brings to my mind voyages and creates beguiling images of distant lands Meanwhile inOn the Black Hillwe receive ordinary though unusual in its simplicity story, set on the farm called The Vision on the english wales border Chatwin effortlessly and with great charm and discreet humor painted hymn to the unchanging rhythm of life, hard work and carefully cultivated Welsh separateness With keen eye described the small, closed community, unwilling to changes taking place in the world The protagonists are twin brothers Lewis and Benjamin Jones When we meet them they are in their eighties and spent together practically almost whole life We get to know theirs father, simply, sometimes violent peasant and his wife Mary, educated and fragile pastor s daughter We re witnesses nearly the whole century on the Black Hill We see, unusual even for twins, intimacy Violent quarrels with neighbours, love for the farming, beauty of the countryside, two world wars, economic progress, tractors, planes All this runs through the book And on the Black Hill two old childless men are to make over the farm to their sister s grandson.Masterpiece This is a nice, quiet little novel to pick up when you don t want anything upsetting or scary or suspenseful to read It s very much place driven and character driven rather than dependent on an exciting plot Chatwin covered 80 years in 250 pages, so there s no excess prose or boring passages The beauty of the book is the way the author carries you away to a sheltered little farming community on the border of Wales and England With very few words he richly creates all the small town provincia This is a nice, quiet little novel to pick up when you don t want anything upsetting or scary or suspenseful to read It s very much place driven and character driven rather than dependent on an exciting plot Chatwin covered 80 years in 250 pages, so there s no excess prose or boring passages The beauty of the book is the way the author carries you away to a sheltered little farming community on the border of Wales and England With very few words he richly creates all the small town provincial characters you d expect for that time and place There s the gossip, the crazy person, the greedy one, the pious one and then all the interlopers from off that the locals don t trust because they re new The landscape and seasons and lifestyle are also vividly created with few words The story follows the lives of Benjamin and Lewis Jones They are identical twins who are so attached to each other that they relike one person than two Born in 1900, they spend their entire lives on their farm, with only one holiday away at the age of ten Sounds boring, but the book has its own special charm I mostly read this during our trip to Hay on Wye earlier in the month, and feel it is worthy of being called a modern classic It has echoes of D.H Lawrence and especially Thomas Hardy, and it s a pleasantly offbeat look at the developments of the twentieth century as seen through the lives of Welsh identical twins Benjamin and Lewis Jones Opening in the 1980s, when the brothers are eccentric old gents sleeping side by side in their late parents bed, the book then retreats to the beginning a I mostly read this during our trip to Hay on Wye earlier in the month, and feel it is worthy of being called a modern classic It has echoes of D.H Lawrence and especially Thomas Hardy, and it s a pleasantly offbeat look at the developments of the twentieth century as seen through the lives of Welsh identical twins Benjamin and Lewis Jones Opening in the 1980s, when the brothers are eccentric old gents sleeping side by side in their late parents bed, the book then retreats to the beginning at the turn of the last century ornery Amos Jones fell for an educated rector s daughter and their volatile relationship played out at The Vision farm One son was caught up in the First World War, one had love affairs neither ever strayed further than Hereford Through sickness, community scandal, and the rise and fall of fortunes, they remain wedded to Welsh village life.I especially loved Chatwin s descriptions of the natural world he d visited Radnorshire as a boy and considered it a kind of spiritual home , and the glimpses he gives into the twins preternatural closeness Lewis and Benjamin gambolled ahead, put up grouse, played finger football with rabbit droppings, peered over the precipice onto the backs of kestrels and ravens and, every now and then, crept off into the bracken, and hid They liked to pretend they were lost in a forest, like the Twins in Grimms fairy tale, and that each stalk of bracken was the trunk of a forest tree They lay on their backs and gazed on the clouds that crossed the fretted patches of sky they would press their foreheads together, each twin losing himself in the other s grey eye Clearance book from Blackwell s in Oxford Originally published with images on my blog, Bookish Beck On the Black Hill is an elegantly written tale of identical twin brothers who grow up on a farm in rural Wales and never leave home They till the rough soil and sleep in the same bed, touched only occasionally by the advances of the twentieth centuryIn depicting the lives of Benjamin and Lewis and their interactions with their small local community Chatwin comments movingly on the larger questions of human experience Take Haruki Murakami s novel, Kafka on the Shore A delight to its juvenile readers, and why wouldn t it Lots of props here cats talking to humans, frogs falling like rain from the sky, a son having sex with his mother, a brother and sister love scene, killings, ghosts Even the title hints of fantasy After reading it, however, you feel empty Like you ve spent new year s eve all alone, you ve watched the fireworks in the sky consume themselves, then you sleep with no remembrance of any joy.N Take Haruki Murakami s novel, Kafka on the Shore A delight to its juvenile readers, and why wouldn t it Lots of props here cats talking to humans, frogs falling like rain from the sky, a son having sex with his mother, a brother and sister love scene, killings, ghosts Even the title hints of fantasy After reading it, however, you feel empty Like you ve spent new year s eve all alone, you ve watched the fireworks in the sky consume themselves, then you sleep with no remembrance of any joy.Now look at this Not a single one of such props whatsoever Bruce Chatwin even chose the most boring place, the most ordinary characters, the simplest plot, and an unpretentious title Near the end of the 19th century the story starts, a farm on the English Welsh border called The Vision , near a place called the Black Hill There s the father Amos and his wife Mary Their first born were twins, Lewis and Benjamin They have a younger daughter who later ran away with a man and never came back Amos tended their farm, the twins grew up to be farmers too They never married or had children Lewis lost his virginity to a girl when he was already past the age of 30, Benjamin appears to have never had sex with anyone although it was hinted that he may have been sexually abused by men during his stint as a drafted soldier during the first world war where he refused to fight and was dishonorably discharged After their parents died, and their sister had ran away, the twins continued tending to their farm, acquiring additional land every now and then They slept side by side in their parents bed for 42 years, never changing anything inside their house They grew old, past the age of eighty Just that No trips to purgatory, no battles fought, no enigmas, strange coincidences or troubling dreams.Boring, boring, boring you might say But you know what Unlike Kafka on the Shore which fell flat despite all it pyrotechnics, this novel FLEW And at that point where it takes you to flight, you d feel like crying.Another discovery from the 1001 list Bruce Chatwin died outside Nice, France, on January 17, 1989 the book s blurb says Never heard of you before, Mr Chatwin But now I see you Twin boys, Lewis and Benjamin Jones, were born in 1900 on a farm on the border of Radnorshire, Wales and Herefordshire, England The identical Welsh twins spentthan eighty years together with the stronger Lewis doing the heavier work on the farm, while Benjamin handled the finances and birthing the lambs Their one push into the modern world was buying a tractor They had a telepathic relationship, knowing the other s thoughts and feeling the other s pain.The book is composed of experience Twin boys, Lewis and Benjamin Jones, were born in 1900 on a farm on the border of Radnorshire, Wales and Herefordshire, England The identical Welsh twins spentthan eighty years together with the stronger Lewis doing the heavier work on the farm, while Benjamin handled the finances and birthing the lambs Their one push into the modern world was buying a tractor They had a telepathic relationship, knowing the other s thoughts and feeling the other s pain.The book is composed of experiences of the twins, their parents, and their neighbors in a small village It does not have much of a plot, but has a marvelous sense of place, occasional humor, and lovely writing It immerses the reader in the rural life of a Welsh village where the residents live close to the land in what is often a bleak existence Lewis died first, but Benjamin cannot be separated from his twin He spends time every day sitting on the tomb, a block of shiny black granite one half with an inscription, the other left blank The story of a Welsh farming family focusing especially on twin brothers, Lewis and Benjamin Having recently read a biography of Chatwin by N Shakespeare, I had already encountered several of the characters here L B are based upon two farming brothers introduced to Chatwin by his friend, Penelope Betjeman Similarly, some of the other characters evolved in this way It was therefore difficult for me to see this always as a work of fiction.Beautifully written in spare clear prose it is entire The story of a Welsh farming family focusing especially on twin brothers, Lewis and Benjamin Having recently read a biography of Chatwin by N Shakespeare, I had already encountered several of the characters here LB are based upon two farming brothers introduced to Chatwin by his friend, Penelope Betjeman Similarly, some of the other characters evolved in this way It was therefore difficult for me to see this always as a work of fiction.Beautifully written in spare clear prose it is entirely absorbing and the characters are well drawn I now want to find the DVD of the film based on the book and see how they compare Recommend


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