One sentence. And a man returning to a Scottish Island where the otter plane landed on a cockle beach. He had secretly honeymooned there with his wife years before, now she was dead from long drawn-out cancer. But grief seems more difficult to negotiate than a catharsis of return and farewell. Grief needs to mature, I guess, like one of the island’s ‘lazy beds’ slowly cooking peat potatoes. Or the bed on their island honeymoon showing the locally needed humility of sex by squeaking loudly. And she never cut a flower for fear of hurting it. And he got caught by her effectively breaking such a rule. Fulmars, razor clams, slaughtered bullocks and quaint island habits, but those eponymous knitted patterns? What of them?

“It must have been like walking around dressed in your own postcode, he thought.”


‘That Glimpse of Truth’ context:

My previous reviews of Julian Barnes: