Book Reviews
Mr Weston’s Good Wine: T.F. Powys
16th Mar 2010Posted in: Book Reviews Comments Off on Mr Weston’s Good Wine: T.F. Powys
Mr Weston’s Good Wine: T.F. Powys

T.F. Powys was discovered by Sylvia Townsend Warner living in a small village in Dorset with drawers full of completed manuscripts of startling originality. He was one of three brothers, all of whom became famous writers. After his work was published other writers found their way to his door, but he remained a fairly reclusive man, weaving his strange novels from the characters and landscape of East Chaldon until he gave up writing in 1936 with the words; “a writer should stop, when he has said enough.”

Mr Weston’s Good Wine (the title comes from Jane Austen’s novel, Emma: ‘She believed he had been drinking too much of Mr. Weston’s good wine, and felt sure that he would want to be talking nonsense…’), was the most popular of his novels, and centres on the village of Folly Down, where Mr Weston and his assistant, Michael, have arrived to sell the ‘good wine’. There are two types: the light wine of love and the dark wine of death. It’s clear fairly early on that the story is an allegory: the village is full of souls both good and downright evil, troubled and content, and their acceptance or otherwise of what Mr Weston has to offer ultimately decides their fate.

This is a difficult book in places – I put it down more than once for lengthy periods. There’s an atmosphere of menace in Folly Down, partly due to Mrs Vosper, the village procuress, who tricks young girls into losing their virginity under the tree on the village green, that makes this not only a dark read, but a comment on the flaws of the human race.

Mr Weston may or may not be an allegorical God and Michael his angel, yet I couldn’t help feeling that by the end of the book the author was as unsure of the nature/existence of God as I was and am – was perhaps even a pagan at heart. A beautifully written, idiosyncratic and thought-provoking read though, and worth looking out for.

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