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Goshen Public Library and Historical Society

Across the Reference Desk

by Janet Hamill

July 7, 1999

The wonderful British author Penelope Fitzgerald is back on the new fiction shelves at the Goshen Public Library and Historical Society. Human Voices is the first publication in the United States of an earlier novel, originally published in England in 1980. The "human voices" of this delightful tale belong to an eccentric group of broadcasters at the BBC in London during the air raids of World War II. Like Fitzgerald's novels Offshore and The Bookshop, Human Voices is inspired by personal experience. She worked for the BBC during the war when the station served as a lifeline to the troops and a comforting voice of reassurance and authority to a frightened public. When British listeners turned into the "Nine O'Clock News" in the middle of 1940, they had no idea what human dramas and follies were unfolding behind the scenes. In Human Voices Fitzgerald presents an enchanting insight into that singular world with all of the humor, romance, irony and tragedy that her many American fans have come to expect.

New to the shelves of current non-fiction is Coleridge: Darker Reflections, 1804-1834 by Richard Holmes. This volume is Holmes's long awaited sequel to Coleridge: Early Visions, which won the 1989 Whitebread Book of the Year Prize. Coleridge: Darker Reflections chronicles the last thirty years of the great poet's life. It traces the development of Coleridge into a brilliant lecturer, a new kind of philosophical thinker, and a legend among the younger generation of Romantic writers including De Quincey, Bryon, Shelly, Keats, and Walter Scott, among others. This definitive literary life follows Coleridge's soul through his foundering marriage, increaeed opium addiction, and bitter quarrels with Wordsworth. Though the life we're exposed to is often unhappy, it is continually fascinating. Holmes writes vividly of Coleridge's heartaches, moments of elation, boundless creativity and energy, and his unfailing ability to rescue himself, time and time again, from the darkest abyss.

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