Uncle Stephen [Hardcover] by Forrest Reid978-1-9057
A subtle, supernatural novel reminiscent of the work of the author’s great friend Walter de la Mare, Uncle Stephen also has its roots in the Gothic novels of his countryman J. Sheridan le Fanu. It is a story of time-travel, magic and the joys and responsibilities of friendship. Tom Barber is a newly-orphaned boy in search of the mysterious uncle he has never met, and about whom there is a hint of scandal. . .
The story of Uncle Stephen, first published in 1931, came to Reid in a dream, and the dreamlike evocation of the the Ulster countryside in which it is set trembles over the brink into the magical:
'. . . from beginning to end, [the book] was composed in sleep--or perhaps I should say "lived", for I undoubtedly was Tom. Of the exact date of this dream I have no note, but next morning I wrote it all out and sent a summary of it, in the form of a letter, to Walter de la Mare. . . "Has the magician come on any further?" he asks [in his reply]. "What you said in your letter should be a vivifying nucleus; and though a wicked magician would be easier, a good one would be far more original, and offer a more delicate scope. Have you put anything on paper yet?" '
To Reid, the trees, fields and streams of the natural world were 'reflections of a divine world existing beyond the flux of time and fate and change.' Tom, exploring the grounds of his Uncle’s house and the countryside around, is a child of this pagan, subtly erotic world, slipping between dimensions, coming to a new awareness of the possibilities of his life.
Uncle Stephen was first published by Faber & Faber, 1931. This edition with a new introduction by Colin Cruise.
'. . . If you can appreciate fine words and sensitive feelings and fantastic situations, Uncle Stephen is your book.' - Time and Tide