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Testimonies: A Novel Paperback – July 17, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
But TESTIMONIES was his first novel, originally published in 1952. It tells of an English professor of Welsh origins, Joseph Pugh, who abandons teaching at Oxford and moves to a cottage in Wales. There he explores the primal mountain back country and tries to understand the farming culture of his ancestral land. A lonely, middle-aged bachelor, Pugh can hardly keep house, even to basics--cooking, cleaning, maintaining his clothes. He has never known intimacy, let alone close friendship, but he falls fatally in love with the wife of his sheep-farmer neighbor Emyr Vaughan, a violent man . . . He pines for months, keeping his love sickness to himself, but when he becomes gravely ill he is taken into the Vaughan house, where he and Bronwen discover each others' feelings, with tender reserve. The denouement is poignant, inevitable, yet O'Brian handles this difficult material deftly, without over-writing. For a beginning writer in his 20s this is masterful work at the pinnacle of writing.
An acute recorder of time and place, human behavior and motivation, action and reaction, O'Brian uses words persuasively, passionately, a craftsman to the core. He captures country, culture and character with Hardy's lyrical affection, idiosyncratic ethnicity, thoughtfully observed. His meticulous work is reminiscent of the great American writers Faulkner, Steinbeck and Capote, or O'Brian's fellow Brits John Fowles and William Golding.Read more ›
And there is more than one story here. There is the tale of the rugged, unforgiving land of Wales and the equally hard people it has produced; there is the parable of a tragic entanglement between two people who do everything to avoid it; and there is the epic hint of a final justice for the characters, and a final truth for us all.
I read this novel four years ago this summer and I can still vividly recall the ecstasy of emotion that I felt when I finished it.
I already knew, from the Aubrey-Maturin books, that O'Brian was a master of characterization and of plot and action, but here, with the sailing and the battles removed, I could see even more clearly how masterful his prose is. It is hauntingly beautiful.
Like some other reviewers, I was confused and unsure what to think of the ending. There was a part of me that thought O'Brian was pulling a fast one, which I didn't like, but the other part of me was so enamored of the characters and the writing that I just didn't care. Especially when you consider that this was his first novel, you simply can't ask for better. It has echoes of Hardy, or even (if you remove all the melodramatic passion--just my opinion) of Wuthering Heights, with the harsh but beautiful landscape mirroring the harsh but beautiful people.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a strange book. An unusual format and difficult to read. I finished it b/c I am determined to read all of Patrick O'Brian's books.Published 6 months ago by midcarol1
I picked this up in my local library recently as a reprint. What a stunning story and written with such beautiful restraint! Read morePublished 14 months ago by Lannmva
O'Brian has an interesting rhythm to his writing. This book has just enough descriptive and vague language at the same time that's intriguing.Published 23 months ago by Terri Givens
Do not read the introduction until you are done with the book. Read the introduction after you have read the book. It is a very good book.Published on August 18, 2013 by J. cheyney
a very "dull" book compared to his 20 books of adventures with Capt. Aubrey & Dr. Maturin, each one making me want to read more of their adventures.Published on August 10, 2013 by Bernice K. Holcombe
an interesting book but don't excpect anything even vaguelly related to the naval stories. a good story in its own right but a total shift from the others.Published on July 18, 2013 by John C. O'Brien
Magnificent story of love and respect. And , the depths to which people can sink when they know nothing. I have grieved for several weeks after reading this.Published on June 28, 2013 by glenn bridges
If you're looking for swashbuckling adventures on the high seas, you won't find it here. What you will find ia a good novel by a great author. Read morePublished on May 6, 2013 by Greg Strandberg