Having read A Young Lady’s Miscellany by the same author and having thoroughly enjoyed it, I was thrilled to see that Auriel Roe, its author, had also written a novel and quickly made sure that I added it to my birthday list.
I devoured it as soon as it arrived.
A Blindefellows Chronicle charts a series of incidents that take place at Blindefellows school, listed chronologically, hence the title, and spanning many years of the school’s existence starting in 1974 and leading up to contemporary times. We follow many characters but the narrative is centred primarily on Sedgewick, who arrives at the school at the very start of the book and Japes, one of the existing Masters when Sedgewick arrives, who takes the newcomer under his wing. Japes is a bit of a likeable rogue whereas Sedgewick is a mummy’s boy and a little green but over time, they become good friends and colleagues.
The incidents that make up the book revolve around different episodes in the school’s history and are as varied as internationally themed picnics to sheep being held hostage to stopping the razing of a wood and at times centre on the behaviours of the schoolmasters themselves and sometimes those of their wives.
There is something about Auriel Roe’s writing style which I really like. Her books are easy to read and have a quintessential British humour permeating it from start to finish which is a bit saucy at times and peppered with observational wit. As with her memoirs, there are moments from this book that will stay with me beyond my reading of it and having finished it, I feel sad which is, paradoxically, a good feeling to have at the end of a book – you are sad it has ended but you have the goodness and warmth that comes from having read something highly enjoyable.
I don’t think that there is anything that I didn’t like about this book. I like the characters, the friendships, the storytelling, the plots of each incident and the way that they evolve; I especially liked the ending which brings the narrative full circle back to Sedgewick and Japes and a poignancy that left me simultaneously sad but filled with the goodness of humanity.
This is just my sort of book and I would recommend it heartily to anyone. I can only hope that she writes more!