Close of Play
by P.J. Whiteley
Brian Clarke has an ordered life, a life of village cricket, solid principles, and careful interaction with those around him. He is resolutely fending off advancing middle-age with a straight bat, determined to defend his wicket against life’s occasional fast balls. Then he meets Elizabeth a gentle, caring, genuinely selfless soul who is a glowing bloom amongst the ordered hedgerows of his existence. As Elizabeth demands Brian’s interest and breathes hope into his heart he must reassess his self-defined role as the lone batsmen and fight to find the courage to fall in love. Or risk losing her forever. Close of Play is a thoughtful, funny, beautifully honest story of love and manners. It is a tale of missed opportunities and a chance at redemption and the fear of opening our hearts to another when we think we have forgotten how to love.
Brian Clarke, or Colin as he is known to his fellow cricketers…and the vicar…and Elizabeth, is a man of tradition. A very conservative man who feels out of step with the times he is living in. When he meets Elizabeth, he is immediately attracted. But will she feel the same? Despite his many friends at the cricket club and church he lives on his own and is lonely and terribly fearful of rejection. His attempts to woo Elizabeth are both funny and sad.
Brian’s happiness depends on him finding a way through his rigid beliefs and trying to encompass someone who is not always on the same wavelength as him. And while watching him trying to sort through his emotions can be very poignant, at other times it is hilarious:
On unrequited love:
“perhaps love never goes completely unrequited, or unrewarded” I offered…
“yes, that’s what he said too. Something about karma.”
“oh – I’m not sure unrequited love helps you become calmer,” I said.
We get to know Brian through his own eyes, and he happily lets us into his world of cricket, church, good manners, philosophy. This is Jane Austen from a man’s point of view, and it’s wonderful.
This book is written in the most beautiful language. I took longer to read it than normal because I would read a sentence or a paragraph and have to go back and re-read it; such was the enjoyment.
If you like a romance with a dash of cricket and a whole lot of life thrown in, you’ll love this book.
Thanks to Matthew at Urbane Publishing for sending me a copy.