|Title: In a Country
Author: Ronald Fletcher
Date published: 1978
Status: out of print
What is it? A series of elegant essays that use memorials in East Anglian churchyards as their starting points.
What's it like? From about the turn of the century up to betwen the two world wars, a blind organ grinder - Blind Montgomery - used to wander about the village green and along the country lanes and tracks of the country round about, between Aldeburgh, Halesworth and Southwold. He had his poems set up by the Southwold Press and sold them for a penny a time. Sometimes the proceeds were for himself, but very often for charity. By great good fortune, I found that his daughter, who still lives in Felixstowe, had kept all his poems. Also, it turned out that he had kept a diary.
What's good about it? An entrancing book by this underrated Suffolk writer. Starting in Westleton churchyard, he weaves a series of detective stories, finding old photographs in junkshops and press-cuttings between the pages of forgotten books. It includes the germs of stories that would become Portrait of a Victorian Village and the Akenham Burial Case.
What's bad about it? Short chapters mean that some of the events are painted with broad brush-strokes.
Overall rating: 4/5