And here it is again, our Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness.
Our time of sodden paths and leaf-strewn parks and a determined putting away of the flip flops and sliders and a seeking out of boots that need heeling and a glove that has apparently lost its partner over the summer.
And we embrace it. Living in the northern hemisphere seasons are so part of our DNA that personally, I would be bereft without them.
That’s not to say I don’t moan and complain about the unreliability of so many of our English versions.
For me, summers should be hot, autumns beautiful and a tad chilly and winters deep and crisp, decidedly cold and even.
Actually, at the moment, I am enjoying an extended summer. In Crete at our village house for a couple of weeks, we have had the hottest, finest, bluest October weather we have had over the twelve years we have owned the place. With temperatures daily, unfailingly in the mid 20s since we arrived, it is quite wonderful to be wandering around still in summer clothes and swimming daily!
But back to real autumn – and the one that will greet me when I arrive back at Gatwick in a few days …
Literature, as we know, makes great use of weather and seasons. Pathetic fallacy is a well trodden linguistic technique that most authors use. Weather affects mood and therefore can be used as an incitement to certain actions. Even Shakespeare makes use of a hot and sultry day in Verona in Romeo and Juliet to suggest that trouble could arise on the streets as a result of it – and lo and behold, Tybalt and Mercutio and Romeo all get into a fatal and most unfortunate brawl on that day
Gothic literature embraces the habit:
It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils …
the eponymous character Frankenstein tells us when he is about to reveal his creature for the first time. As soon as the reader notes the month and the weather, negative connotations sound loudly.
Jane Austen suggests bad things happen in enclosed spaces like a carriage in winter – an unfortunate proposal for Emma from Mr Elton – whereas on a pleasant summer’s evening in the grounds of a beautiful house, Mr Knightly gets the answer he deserves from the same lady.
Lord of the Flies – William Golding’s masterful novel – does almost the exact opposite of marking seasons passing for a very definite reason.
The lack of reference to specific days, weeks, months passing reflects the boys’ retreat from civilisation and their absorption into the timelessness of the island. We are never aware of how long they have been on the island when – spoiler alert – they are eventually rescued.
Films often seem to exploit the opposite – think of the number of romantic reunions or happy conclusions during a rain storm? Breakfast at Tiffany’s with beautiful Audrey Hepburn clutching a cat comes to mind. And Gene Kelly is clearly having a good time in Singing in the Rain! Yet if anyone remembers The Graduate, it is in a heavy downpour that Mrs Robinson is humiliated and defeated as Benjamin drives away …
But back to autumn and books, bonfires, shorter days and longer nights – what is a better season for curling up with a book?
My new novel is due out at the end of November with a book launch for The Odyssey of Lily Page set for the same week. More information and a cover reveal to follow in subsequent blog!
In the meantime, enjoy the time of year – this fallow season before the onslaught of both Christmas and real winter – and happy reading!