Now and Then – W. Corlett

NAT(We have not discussed this in the group but it was a ‘spin off’ from one of our meetings and this review is in a personal capacity.)

Christopher Metcalfe returns to his childhood home after his father’s death. Going through his father’s things, he discovers a file with all his boarding school stuff, including a photo that brings back, possible repressed, memories.

Metcalfe tells his story in alternating chapters “now”, in his forties, and “then”, as a fifth former at public school,

What might seem like schoolboy ‘experimenting’ actually was illegal and left the protagonist blighted and closed up against all possibility of love for thirty years

As time progresses and the time between ‘now’ and ‘then’ draws closer, we see how people damage each other.

The author, who died in 2005, grew up in Saltburn, on the north Yorkshire coast. His prep school years were unhappy, and it was a relief to him – and his loving parents – when he went on to Fettes College, Edinburgh, about which he spoke fondly. Is any of this book autobiographical?

NAT 2Quotations:

 “Why, I wonder, do we so rarely listen to that sane, protective inner voice? Probably because it tells us things that we don’t want to hear.”

“Here, in this moment, the now and then of existence seem to be joined into a creative, radiant present.”

These things that happen . . . they’re a part of growing up. No more nor less important than spots and the voice breaking.

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