Time Among the Dead by Thomas Rayfiel

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William, the Seventh Earl of Upton, is dying. His grandson, Seabold, has given him a journal in which the old man unwillingly at first, but soon with a strange compulsion begins to record the last months of his time on earth. But a daily account of life at Upton Hall, the decaying estate in which this late-Victorian lord has spent his entire life, is quickly overtaken by violent recollections of William's childhood, a past he has heretofore managed to repress, as well as even stranger intimations of the future, of ourselves, the readers, chancing upon this document some hundred years later, and of the predicaments we find ourselves in today. These three strands, past, present, and future, are braided together as our unlikely hero speaks to both himself and to the not-yet-living, finally seeing his life whole and extracting from it the lessons he has learned, lessons learned for our benefit as well as his own. Time Among the Dead conjures up the lost world of the English countryside, with its eccentric aristocracy, stolid tenant farmers, and striving middle class. Romantic love and a mystical appreciation of nature vie with the gloom of family secrets and the growing apprehension that a time, a way of life, is passing irrevocably away. A figure by turns tragic and screamingly funny, William proves to be a sage guide, reminding us that the human condition changes little over the years. By the end, it is unclear who has visited whom, only that we have made and lost a friend.

About Thomas Rayfiel

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THOMAS RAYFIEL is the author of several novels, including The Eve Trilogy: Colony Girl (a Los Angeles Times Notable Book of the Year), Eve in the City, and Parallel Play.
Published June 1, 2010 by Permanent Press. 159 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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For example, Jenny is introduced as possessing “the pre-moral nature of a wild cat, with none of that creature’s God-given grace.” Lord Upton’s imperious father is described from childhood memory as “a fearsome distant object.” Upton describes one of his hallucinations this way: “I delve unwilli...

Jun 01 2010 | Read Full Review of Time Among the Dead

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