Under the Apple Boughs
By Peter Maughan
In a series of seasonal vignettes, Peter Maughan has crafted a pleasurable read that has been highly anticipated and reviewed by many. I received a review copy from the author with much excitement. Having purchased Peter Maughan's novel, The Cuckoos of Batch Magna which I gave my highest recommendation a few years ago, I was eager to begin this new novel. Under the Apple Boughs is rich in sensory details, lush imageries, and carries the reader away into the countryside.
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The setting offers the reader a variety of settings within the West border area of England and Wales. From the kitchen of George Perry, Bedroom of Miss Holsworth, to the local Inn, the reader will not find the stories lagging or slow in pace. Peter Maughan uses several themes from the didactic, social, and escapist with a purpose of entertaining. The author uses aesthetic and emotional qualities in his writing. For example the author uses this talent as a basis with the tone of the hunting trip as, "Powder from the hazel catkins by the stream blew in a breeze and the alder trees, that in summer shaded a bridge built by monks, were bruised with purple flowering, and yellow points of the primrose were a small bright find among the winter drabness."
I further enjoyed the meditative repetition of words that Peter Maughan used when describing the "percussion of death had beat the air, as barrel after barrel was emptied into the flocks of woodpigeons" and at the end of the day, "the evening star fluttered above the valley, fluttered and then held, and the rapid call of the woodpecker reached out across the wood like a question." There is no question that the author is a master of lyrical style, yet do not be fooled as Maughan expresses an elegiac tale of his beloved Bill Sikes. This not only keeps the reader engaged but offers a different story with each short.
|Peter Maughan an ex-actor, fringe theater director,script writer, married, and living in the Welsh Marches.|
My favorite short was, Passage to Spring. From the descriptions and word choice such as the cocooned and near death stir of the earth's pulse strengthened as the first colors cut into the land like small healing wounds left me breathless. Additionally, I felt as if I were walking and capturing all the sights, sounds and tastes in a rhythm of poetic syntax. I also greatly enjoyed the short story titled, Village Wedding. With rich twists of emotional wedding day festivities and experiences, the guest, bride, and groom are the center of the plot with climatic rise and fall. The author teases the reader with a bit of foreshadowing as he earlier states, "putting aside for that moment what is, or was, or might be, and allowing only what should be."
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I had difficulty with rating, Under the Apple Boughs. I did not find it as the same quality as the author's previous work, The Cuckoo of Batch Magna partly due to the difference in novel verses short story format. This is more of a personal preference than that reflecting the authors work. However, I do highly recommend this book. I especially feel that readers aged 30 and older would be more drawn to Under the Apple Boughs. These stories can be easily read over and adapted into monologue for an afternoon tea. Make sure you visit the links provided and pick up your copy today!