by John Knowles
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a beautifully written novel that takes us into the mind of a young man who is faced with entering WWII as he leaves his adolescence behind. The things that happen to him, and the choices he makes are presented unflinchingly and with a constant attention to the complexities of human nature. It is set in a boy's school in NH, probably based on Philips Exeter Academy which the author attended.
"I did not have New England in my bones; I was a guest in this country, even though by now a familiar one, and I could never see a totally extinguished winter field without thinking it unnatural. I would tramp along trying to decide whether corn had grown there in the summer, or whether it had been a pasture, or what it could have been, and in that deep layer of the mind where all is judged by the five senses and primitive expectation, I know that nothing would ever grow there again." (p. 139)This book is on my Classics Club List. It also counts, since it was published in 1959, toward the Back to the Classics Challenge as a 20th century classic, or an author that is new to me.