First Light

First Light

by Peter Ackroyd, Ackroyd
     
 

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First Light begins with an ominous coincidence: the reappearance of the ancient night sky during the excavation of an astronomically aligned Neolithic grave in Dorset. A group of eccentrics — archaeologists, astronomers, local rustics, a civil servant, and a stand-up comic — converge on the site, disturbing the quiet seclusion of Pilgrin Valley.

Overview

First Light begins with an ominous coincidence: the reappearance of the ancient night sky during the excavation of an astronomically aligned Neolithic grave in Dorset. A group of eccentrics — archaeologists, astronomers, local rustics, a civil servant, and a stand-up comic — converge on the site, disturbing the quiet seclusion of Pilgrin Valley. Someone (or something) is trying to sabotage the best efforts of the excavators, headed by Mark Clare, to unearth the dormant secrets of the burial ground. Meanwhile, at the nearby observatory, astronomer Damien Fall, his telescope focused on the red star Aldebaran, is unnerved by the deeper significance he imputes to the celestial sophistication of the region's ancient inhabitants. And Joey Hanover, a retired music hall and TV entertainer searching for his own past, has learned secrets from Farmer Mint and his son, Boy, the weirdly cryptic guardians of their ancestral home in the valley. All is masterfully woven into an immensely engaging and entertaining novel, a suspenseful reflection on life, nature, and the cosmos, and above all an illuminating and enchanting story.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
T. S. Eliot biographer and novelist Ackroyd (Chatterton ) again delivers a fascinatingly ambiguous tale. The discovery of a neolithic grave site on the Devon-Dorset border attracts an assortment of archeologists, astronomers and indigenous characters. Each has his own agenda, from archeologist Mark Clare, hoping to prove a maverick theory, to Joey Hanover, a show-biz character who happens along in search of his roots. Astronomer Damien Fall may have discovered something astonishing, and the exceedingly peculiar Farmer Mint and his idiot savant son, Boy Mint, may hold more cards in this game than anyone knows.

The novel is carefully imbued with several ominous portents that lead nowhere, but the tone is so deliciously creepy that it doesn't matter. Ackroyd's sly humor is beguiling; he has given some of the best lines to a lesbian couple and Joey's malaprop wife. Silliness and illumination fit together perfectly in this amusing, eccentric and provocative novel.

Library Journal
Take a neolithic tomb in Hardy's rural, brooding Dorset. Add a cast of oddball characters that includes a hilariously hypocritical lesbian bureaucrat, an ex-Music Hall comic, his malapropism-spouting wife, a gin-swilling dealer in old clocks, and a sly farmer and his son, the keepers of dark secrets. Stir in a generous helping of mystery and of metaphysical speculation on the nature of Time and Space. The result: a tasty, expertly crafted novel that challenges as it entertains. With this book Ackroyd, author of a notable biography of T.S. Eliot as well as Chatterton, a critically acclaimed novel, establishes his reputation as a leading voice in British letters, one willing to confront difficult questions. His most satisfying book to date.-- Vincent D. Balitas, Allentown College, Center Valley, PA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802134813
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
09/28/1996
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
6.13(w) x 9.19(h) x 0.94(d)

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