When a man inherits the ancient family home in the Breconshire countryside from his aunt Megan, a cosmopolitan psychiatrist, he follows the instructions she has left him and, night after insomniac night, settles down to read his way through the extensive library of rare books, content in his solitude. But one morning a dazzling bright blue object intrudes on his vision: a strange tent pitched in the field just beyond the garden fence. The tent’s young occupant, Alice, walks into the house and makes herself at home, the first of a series of uninvited guests to wrongfoot the man. A few days later the tramp-like O’Halloran emerges from the tent, then Alice’s French friend Gabrielle arrives. Each new arrival claims to be have known the late Megan, who they say, made the tent herself and gave it as a present to each of them. Then an almost feral child appears, adding to the man’s queasy sensation of losing control of the situation, even of reality.
With its strong sense of place and drawing on local history, Richard Gwyn’s third, extraordinary novel plays on the uncertain boundaries between the real world and that of dream or imagination. Atmospheric, full of ambiguities and unanswered questions, The Blue Tent is his finest novel yet.
A mysterious, dream-like story, delicately-written and with a disturbing undertow, The Blue Tent is in the best tradition of modern oneiric fiction
The Blue Tent is pitched right on the line, the one that divides the daily drudge and the fields of dreams. The reader, Gwyn encourages us to believe, can cross over, or maybe slip straight on through.