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The Bird of Night by Susan Hill
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The Bird of Night

by Susan Hill

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I can't give this a fair review because I read it over thirty years ago, but I still remember the creepy scenes of Venice out of season ( )
  KateRigby | Jul 28, 2013 |
The Bird of Night was the first non-mystery I read by Susan Hill. The subject of the Birds of Night is a poet, who has become quite famous and esteemed, but who has had bouts of psychois which progressively worsen. It is told from the point of view of his long time companion who has access to the poet's writing, unsent letters and diaries, and wants to write of his friend before the academics and publicists have a chance to dissect him. In fact, he has promised his friend to burn his papers. The poet is now dead and his friend is old and wants to present him as truly as he can.

So he writes about thier life together, including the psychotic episodes. It is not a romanticised view of madness. It doesn't, for instance, suggest that the poetry arose out of the madness. But neither does it deny the poetry because of the madness. It made me wonder whether Susan Hill had access to the writings of some gifted person or persons who were mentally ill, because it felt authentic - the diary quotes, but also the described interactions between the two friends. Or, perhaps, it is equally likely that she had access to someone who was close to someone who went through psychotic episodes. In any case it was a feat to pull this off and she definitely has. The pain of it is very present. Recommended. ( )
1 vote solla | Jun 24, 2013 |
I recently read Hill's The Small Hand and The Beacon and enjoyed them both, and came to this book expecting more of the same. I really don't like to give up on books, especially one that's just 176 pages long, but this one turned into an ordeal. In Francis Croft, Hill has quite possibly created the most irritating character in twentieth century English Literature. Harvey Lawson, Croft's long-time companion and doormat, is annoying in his own right. Very well written, as you'd expect, but lumbered with central characters in whose fate, no-one can care. For die-hard fans only. ( )
  cappybear | Jul 28, 2011 |
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And at a house party in the 1920s, Harvey meets Francis, a disturbed genius and the greatest poet of his time, and they start an unlikely friendship that is to devastate Harvey's life as he watches and protects Francis until his suicide. Winner of the Whitebread Literary Award.… (more)

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