A Month in the Country

Some friends and I decided to view some films that had been created from short fiction, first reading the book then meeting to view and watch the film together. Tonight was the first night and by complete coincidence we chose a film that featured Armistice – or to be more precise, a story set just after the first world war, with the main character and supporting character being young soldiers just back from the trenches.

The film was made in 1989 from a beautiful little novella by JL Carr, and stars a very young Colin Firth as Birkin, with Kenneth Branagh as Moon and Natasha Richardson as Alice, the vicar’s wife. It tells the story of Birkin’s recovery from the worst of his war-induced twitch, stammer and night terrors, as he spends a month in the country uncovering an old wall painting in the church. The work itself absorbs and speaks to him, as do the villagers who give him a warm and practical welcome. There’s nothing sentimental about the story, either in the book or the film; but it’s beautiful and hopeful, and makes a lovely counterpoint to all the more formal Armistice events we have reflected on today.

Sadly I’m having trouble with my graphics tonight so can’t include a picture for you to enjoy. Sorry. Do read the book, though, it’s only 80 pages and we all loved it. And get the film if you can. It’s a faithful adaptation. Very inspiring for those of us who write short stories.

2 thoughts on “A Month in the Country

  1. It’s a beautiful, gentle, thought provoking story and film which I really enjoyed and was moved by. Especially poignant at Remembrance time as you said. I found an interesting description of the author’s funeral you will like…

    “Carr died in 1994 and his funeral service in the Kettering parish church was, in the words of Byron Rogers, ‘like the passing of a spymaster.’ He had such disparate interests that there seem to have been many J. L. Carrs, and since he compartmentalized his friendships, few of his friends knew each other. ‘What I remember most about his funeral service was the fidgeting…as the mourners kept squinting sideways to speculate about their neighbours,’ Rogers wrote. ‘Then, at the very last minute there was a clatter of high heels and a very young, very beautiful woman came in, dressed in fashionable black. She came alone and at the end was gone, just as abruptly, into the March afternoon.’ No one knew her or could find out who she was–an ex-pupil, mistress, cricketer, flower-arranger, Sunday School teacher…but readers of A Month in the Country may feel that she had stepped out of its pages. “

    1. Gosh thank you Hilary, that account of him as the ‘spymaster’ really surprises me. I had him in my mind as a quiet, private but essentially straightforward gentleman. And who indeed was the high-heeled mourner? I must look out some more of his stuff to read. Glad you enjoyed it too.

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