Monday, 30 November 2015

Advent: Starlight by Stella Gibbons


published 1967



Advent - Starlight violets




The Reverend Gerald Corliss associated the season of Advent with the scent of violets. This was the hour before the dawn of the Church’s year, when the end of the nave was in darkness by four o’clock, and Evensong was said under a night sky. To him, it always seemed darker, more patient, and more a time of waiting than the three days following Good Friday. Born and brought up in the country, he knew well that English violets did not appear until the spring, but the flowers that haunted this season for him were not country ones; they belonged to London, and were sold in bunches made up with an alien leaf; sometimes at street corners, but most often in expensive flower-shops, and their faint scent was blent with that of the London smoke. He thought of this idea about violets as a weakness in himself, and faced it resignedly. Nevertheless, he always bought a bunch of violets in the first week in December and put them in his room.


 
commentary: Yesterday was the First Sunday of Advent.

Starlight gave the blog an Easter entry, and I said then that it roughly follows the church year – I’m going to come back to it at Xmas too. But I also loved this (completely un-clothes-related) moment. The book is quite dark at times, and has some very dysfunctional people and relationships in it. But there are some lovely moments of kindness and goodness in it, and this was one of them. The Reverend Corliss, the curate in a deprived part of London, is shown as a rather uninspired, difficult man, but here he shows his nicer side. And we all need a bunch of flowers at this time of the year.

This one is by Raoul de Longpre, from The Athenaeum website.



18 comments:

  1. Stella Gibbons? I'm more inclined to Stella Artois I think.....

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  2. Interesting how those little moments can lift a book up, isn't it, Moira? And I think that small things like flowers and their scents really do make that sort of impact on us. Clothes or not, you chose a really interesting way to look at this book. Shows you that you can find all sorts of things in the same book if you're paying attention.

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    1. Flowers can get you every time Margot: their scent and just their existence. And the do cheer us.

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  3. I have Starlight waiting for the next time I'm finished with work—I didn't know it was based on the church year. I did that with my Good to a Fault and the readings/collects made beautiful unfolding sense with the events of the book, a little to my surprise.

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    1. Oh how interesting, Marina, that must have been a weird feeling.

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  4. Very nice, Moira. I love having flowers in the house. The colours cheer me up so much.

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    1. Flowers never fail. Something from the garden, or a beautiful bouquet, are wonderful, but even a humdrum bunch from the 24-hour garage still has some magic...

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    2. I'll disagree, from personal experience I'd say a half-inched bunch from the cemetery would be better received than garage flowers!

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    3. We bow to your superior knowledge Col...

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  5. Moira, I know what you mean about lovely moments. I like those little elements in books too. They add a nice touch to the narrative.

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    1. I like this one very much, and I love that picture - it cheers me up the way real flowers do.

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  6. Lovely lovely painting, and I could go see it. I am not going to Irvine voluntarily, so I won't, but I could.

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    1. It is so beautiful isn't it? I can just stare at it. I didn't realize it was near you, I just had to look Irvine up on a map.

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    2. I had to look at a map to place it myself. It is farther away than I thought, and it would be a horrible drive. Kind of near to the ocean though so maybe not so hot and smoggy.

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    3. OK, we'll just look at the reproduction then....

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  7. Speaking of Gibbons I just picked up Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm (which you posted a bit about in 2012) and came across a passage in a book that I was POSITIVE I'd read in your blog, but I can't find it now - it was a FANTASTIC passage that made me stop and say "Oh, Moira MUST surely have posted this quote" about a character with Garbo-ish marmalade coloured hair and slacks. It was such a Clothes in Books passage and yet I can't find the blog post now!

    Bizarrely, I can almost hear your commentary on it and read word for word what you said about it....

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    1. Ha! Ventriloquism? Hallucination? Pretty sure I only did the one entry, and the book isn't to hand. Why don't you write it up and I'll run it...

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