A New Suffolk Garland
ELIZABETH BURKE, DAN FRANKLIN et al
(BOYDELL PRESS, 288 PP, £20)
Tablet bookshop price £18 • tel 020 7799 4064
Case-hardened reviewers usually demand two things from an anthology: the familiar and the unexpected side-by-side. And so, confronted with this handsome publication, sponsored by the Festival of Suffolk and dedicated to Her Majesty the Queen, I straightaway sat down and compiled a list of what I expected to find in it. This included M.R. James, The Pickwick Papers, an extract from Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop, one of W.G. Sebald’s mournful peregrinations about the place, George Ewart Evans on local folklore and perhaps some mention of the county’s more exotic myths and legends.
Happily all these were well to the fore: several pages of James’s Aldeburgh-set “O Whistle and I’ll Come to you My Lad”; Sebald in the Southwold Sailors’ Reading Room, where he leafs lugubriously through the log of a patrol ship that was anchored off the pier during the Great War, and a no-holds-barred description of “Black Shuck”, the terrible East Anglian ghost dog, who appeared so pyrotechnically at Blythburgh church in August 1577 that the scorch marks on the north door are visible to this day.