"Riding A Novel, Volume I" by H. S. Cross
Riding is the name of the main character, Gray Riding. He is a young adolescent boy living in a boarding school in England in the early 1930's. He is intelligent, precocious, lonely at times, mischievous (typical of this age.) He and his friends often engage in pranks, and they suffer the disciplines of the teachers. In to the story is weaved characters that are mysterious, carry heavy loads of guilt and or sorrow, and their stories are also brought to light amongst the dark and sullen atmosphere of northern England. Gray Riding meet Cordelia Lioht, she is a young girl with her own coming of age and family trials. They are drawn to each other, neither fully understanding what the other is going through, and yet there is a bond.
The author H. S. Cross has a rare talent for flowing, rhythmic writing; the fluidity is like poetry. The descriptions perfectly bring to life the story for the reader. There is a bit of a mystery to the storyline, or it could just be the Yorkshire atmosphere of the boarding school. Often I was reminded to the similarity of a Victorian novel, but yet a modern tone is set. Dispersed often throughout the novel is old English hymns and poetry.
The novel is long at 513 pages, and could be considered intimidating to some. The dialogue between the characters must be read carefully in order to not become lost in the story. It is several pages before a list of common words are defined for the reader, I felt this should have been placed before the story began. There is slang curse words shared between some of the boy's in the boarding school, only a few instances was it rough. If those words had been omitted, nothing would be missed. There are a couple of adult situations, that I am still unclear on. I am unclear about them because "it" is only alluded to, never approached directly for me to understand. Since I am unclear on them, and the author has not explained yet to me, I will not elaborate further.
I will end this review with a few quotes from the book to give you a hint of the beautiful writing!
"I see sodden ewes sheltering new lambs against the constant water."
"In the fog there was no border between sleep and wakefulness."
"....adrift in a gray sea of boys rushing to meet the day."
"inside her little desk dwelt a community with its own architecture."