Brightbourne is a coy house

Coming up on halfway through Ian McDonald’s Hopeland, and I already have about a dozen quotes of similar size to this one that I might have held up, as I’m doing now, as a way of saying that is how you do it, that is great writing.

The music accompanies them up the drive, heard then unheard with every bend, every opening in the trees. Raisa glimpses a glitter of glass, a grey roof, a scrap of scrubby parkland, a gleam of water: Brightbourne is a coy house. Lorien directs the Volvo down a right fork at a stone arch that opens onto a yard of decaying outbuildings. The car swings around an elbow of rhododendron, and there it stands, a three-storyed, generously windowed seventeenth-century box with thuggish additions: a Georgian ballroom annexe leaning against the east wing as if wheedling a loan; a massive Victorian port cochere above the front door, ludicrous as a black eye. Shy of grandeur but strong boned, Brightbourne leans back into the close-shouldering woods. The arrangement of the windows with the outsized covered porch gives the house a look of permanent surprise, that it has been discovered at mischief after four hundred years.

Ian McDonald, Hopeland p113

Man alive—“leaning against the east wing as if wheedling a loan”, that’s just SO good.

And the prose is only the half of it. There will be lots to say about this book once it’s finished, I’m very sure.




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