Thursday, 24 April 2014

PBOTD 24th April: Monica Dickens - Spring Comes to World's End

Today's PBOTD is the last in the World's End series - but it is the most appropriate for the time of year. If you're wondering, the series order is:

The House at World's End
Summer at World's End
World's End in Winter
Spring at World's End
Heinemann, 1973, 1st edition
Spring at World's End (1973) sees the Fielding parents absent yet again. They're crewing yachts to try and earn enough money to buy World’s End.  Mr Fielding is just as feckless and self-absorbed as he is in the other books. He leaves the cash he and Mrs Fielding have earned in a jacket pocket; forgets to tell his wife that's what he's done, and she gives the jacket away to a beggar. When Uncle Rudolph makes over World’s End to the Fieldings in gratitude for their rescue of his wife from kidnappers, he makes it over to the children, not their father:

“I’ve given it away.” Uncle Rudolf paused for an eternity.
‘To you. Not to that feckless father of yours. He’d gamble it away, or set fire to it, or let it get dry rot.’

And knowing what we do of him, this seems only too true. It's the children who are really the heroes in this series. In this last book, however, it's adult benevolence that ensures the family can stay at World’s End, but one that only comes about because of a thoroughly unrealistic kidnapping. Why the children's aunt, Valentina, should be kidnapped is never made clear. The incident does reveal an unexpected softness of feeling in Uncle Rudolph, and of course serves its main purpose by allowing the Fieldings to keep World’s End.


Pan, paperback, 1975
Spring at World's End was the last of the series, but I like to think that the family carried on living there, and that Tom became a vet, Carrie a writer and Lester a maker of wildlife documentaries. And I think they carried on, to the end of his life, supporting their father.


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For more on Monica Dickens, see her page on my website.

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