Following his appearance in The Unspeakable Skipton, Matthew Pryar returns as the hero of Pamela Hansford Johnson’s novel, Night and Silence, Who is Here?
On any count, Pryar is a memorable character, and his experiences as a Visiting Fellow of Cobb, a liberal arts college in New Hampshire, U.S.A., will delight all who appreciate satirical comedy and brilliantly entertaining writing.
Pryar arrives at Cobb to assume his Visiting Fellowship in a mood of expectant complacency. He expects to spend a comfortable, fruitful year completing his long-deferred monograph on the work of the celebrated and awful poetess Dorothy Merlin and to be mildly lionized in the process. He reckons without the nightmare quality of the domestic arrangements, the profusion and variety of the eccentricities of his colleagues and the unheralded and unwanted descent of the poetess herself. The complexities of the situation are considerable and they are compounded by Pryar’s newly-born ambition to abandon belles-lettres in favour of college administration.
Pamela Hansford Johnson, as one would expect, handles her narrative and her marvellous cast of characters with such dexterity and wit that this New Hampshire winter story has all the pace and gaiety of Carnival in high summer.