The Croquet Player. Finished 9-7-16, rating 4/5, fiction, 98 pages, pub. 1937
This allegorical satire about a man fleeing from his evil dreams was written under the influence of the Spanish Civil War. The croquet player, comfortably sipping a vermouth, listens to the strange & terrible tale of the haunted countryside of Cainsmarsh–a horror which broadens & deepens until it embraces the world.
Wells’ modern ghost story of a remote English Village, Cainsmarsh. Dark events are plaguing its people. A terrified farmer murders a scarecrow. Family pets are being bludgeoned to death. Loving couples are turning on each other in vicious rage. People are becoming suspicious of every move each other makes. Children are coming to school with marks on them. One observer thinks there’s evil underground scattered all over the marsh, invading villagers’ minds, & it’s spreading. A well bred, affable & somewhat effeminate croquet player is told the strange story of Cainsmarsh & it’s impending doom as if its plight was the beginning of the end of civilization. (Goodreads)
A modernish day ghost story, published in 1937. A croquet player minding his own business, is approached by a doctor who dumps this crazy story of evil on him. I love the croquet player and his pages of description about himself.
“It takes all sorts to make a world and I see no sense in pretending to be the human norm when one is not. Regarded from a certain angle I am no doubt a soft, but all the same I can keep my head and temper at croquet and make a wooden ball perform like a trained animal.” p.11
“I have soft hands and am ineffective will. I prefer not to make important decisions. My aunt has trained me to be to be her constant associate and, with displays and declarations on all possible occasions of an immense maternal passion for me, she has-I know it clearly-made me self-indulgent and dependent.” p.13
A strange, haunting, thought-provoking novella for H.G. Wells fans and a good introduction to his writing for newbies. I thought it was wonderfully deep and discussion worthy, especially given its length.
My post when I read this last month for my book a day challenge.