This gorgeous book, a memoir and novel intermingled, is one of the strangest and most hypmotic I have ever read. V.S. Naipaul is known, unfairly, almost exclusively as a political and travel writer; few critics seem to have noted the extraordinary beauty and intelligence of his work or its profoundly personal, philosophical underpinnings. Here Naipaul, with no exotic backdrop or apalling human decline to reflect upon, comes out of the dark shadows and reveals himself as a kind of ascetic Proust. In spare, deeply controlled prose, he writes of his walks through the English countryside where he lives, and what he sees. While Naipaul is falling in love, late in life, with his adopted home, it is becoming disfigured by time and change, and soon what he loved is lost. His attempts to cope with that change, to avoid grief, to see coldly and without sentiment, shape the book. The overall effect is, in fact, much like that of Proust, but maybe wiser and certainly less indulgent. But it demands patience and reflection (Naipaul's thick-headed protege Paul Theroux didn't get it), so be warned.