Magazine article The Spectator

Plumbing the Depths

Magazine article The Spectator

Plumbing the Depths

Article excerpt

Plumbing the depths A CLEAR CALLING by David Austin Cape, £14.99, pp. 141, ISBN 022406441X

The sea frightens me. It seems so cold and cruel, even when it looks warm and inviting. It was with some wariness, therefore, that I approached David Austin's first novel, in which the sea, or the Sea, as it is sometimes called in this book, is a major player. Robert Radnor has returned from India 'with a little splash of publicity' generated through his being the only survivor of the Golden Delta, a rusty tramp steamer 'blown round the world by the winds of whatever trade could be found' and finally obliterated by a tidal wave. Radnor, who is already going mad and losing his life-long desire to be a sailor, has foreseen the tragedy, as he foresees others, because he and the Sea have a strange relationship - the clear calling of the title - which grants him a special intuition that survives Outside of the modern world with its greed for data'. Once back in England, Radnor sets up home in a shack near a fishing village, where he lives in silent and lonely eccentricity, carving wooden heads, growing long hair and a beard and causing June Morrow, the local postmistress, a headache or two. …

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