The Gate of Eden – William Corlett


(Not discussed by the group but written in a personal capacity.)

This touching story describes the bitter-sweet relationship between 15-year-old Peter and Mr Falconer, an initially grump, bachelor, retired schoolteacher. Gradually learning to enjoy each other’s company through a shared fascination with literature, the two talk, walk and then correspond.

During the holidays, particularly after Falconer’s dog is killed by some bully boys and Falconer has been continually baited, the boy spends considerable time with him.

But the friendship is threatened when Peter’s girlfriend Sue disapproves of him spending so much time with an old man. There is also gossip about why Mr Faulkner retired so suddenly following allegations about him from a pupil. Peter finally confronts his mentor about this, only to be met by silence. They never communicate again. When Corlett adapted this novel for television in 1979, the old English teacher was unforgettably played by Maurice Denham.

Now, I also grew up in a seaside town and was an isolated teenager. Old-ish men showed interest in me, leant me their books and gave me tea. That sort of inter-generational thing helped my personal development – they listend and there were no ulterior motives but they’d now be suspected of being paedophiles – what a shame and a loss to future generations.

TGOE 2Quotations:

” Chance events that we assign to luck or to fate or to destiny ”

The past seems like a foreign country that I once visited years ago”

“poor Mr. Thing.”

“a turning point, a stepping stone, a moment of change.”

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