A Glastonbury Romance has been sitting among my grandmother's books for many a long year. I started it once myself – when I was sixteen? seventeen? – but gave up before the end of the long first chapter.
I am on my travels at the moment, far away from my grandmother's bookshelves, but yesterday a rather newer edition than the one I remember drew my attention to itself in a second-hand bookshop. I pulled it out from between two other large volumes and began to read what was written on the cover.
On the front was a quotation from George Steiner: "The only novel produced by an English writer that can fairly be compared with the fictions of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky.'
Then on the back cover, from Henry Miller: "To encounter Powys ... is to arrrive at the very fount of creation. He makes us witness of the consuming fire which rages throughout the universe entire and which gives not warmth nor enlightenment, but enduring vision, enduring strength and enduring courage."
And from Margaret Drabble, choosing her "Book of the Century" at the end of the year 1999: "A genius – a fearless writer who writes with reckless passion of flowers and graveyards, incest and teacups, property and religion and the occult. Everything is here, in this astonishing work."
I love that last one. Needless to say, I bought the book – and I will keep you posted on my progress as I read it.