Book Reviews of Hindsight

Hindsight
Hindsight
Author: Peter Dickinson
ISBN-13: 9780394726038
ISBN-10: 0394726030
Publication Date: 7/12/1984
Pages: 192
Rating:
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 4

3.5 stars, based on 4 ratings
Publisher: Pantheon
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

7 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Hindsight on + 386 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Basic plot: During WWII, 12-year-old Peter Rogers' boarding school is evacuated to the country. There is a woman next door, Molly, who knew his father before his birth. She invites him to tea every Sunday. On one of these Sundays he finds the body of a dead teacher on the school grounds. The death is ruled accidental. Forty years later, Rogers is a crime novelist. He runs into a biographer working on someone else who also knew Molly. He asks Rogers to write what he remembers of Molly from his years at the boarding school, to see if any of it is helpful. As Rogers writes down his memories, more and more of them begin to surface. As an adult, he suddenly sees things he was oblivious to as a child. It soon becomes apparent that the accidental death was anything but.

My take: Despite its short length, this is a far departure from Dickinsons' books for young adults. I had to go on his website to be sure it was the same author. It is, and this book is listed under his âadult' books. Not for any âadult' content, but because the narration is exceedingly dry and cerebral. The parts of the book dealing with the grown-up Rogers are more about thought and ideas than actual events. The parts dealing with 12-year-old Rogers are so filled with boarding school slang that American readers might want some sort of glossary. I found the beginning such hard going I almost didn't persist. Once I got into the book, things got better.
reviewed Hindsight on + 1217 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
''This is a murder story'' is the first sentence of ''Hindsight,'' as if Mr. Dickinson were notifying the patient reader that it is not a Jamesian novel of manners. The book is a mystery of where, exactly, the mystery is. It moves through Jamesian suspensions rather than suspense, as the technique of the novel itself becomes an instrument of detection.

The narrator is a novelist writing about a group of people among whom a murder has been committed. Since his novel, which brings previously unconscious memories to the surface, is the means of revelation, it might be said that Mr. Dickinson's book also reconstructs the crime of the novel form.

Rogers, the narrator, describes his work on his book in a manner that will remind some Anglophiles of Anthony Powell wrestling with the problems of recapitulation in ''A Dance to the Music of Time.'' Rogers exchanges letters with a biographer named Dobbs, which offers opportunities for a spate of literary shoptalk.

Rogers's novel within a novel tells the story of a 12-year-old boy at school in the English countryside. As any reader of English fiction knows, the teachers in such places are often military men or intelligence agents who have ''blotted their copybook'' and must now do penance. Captain Smith is one of these. ''What kind of people,'' he asks a boy in the school, ''do you imagine it must have been who felt so powerful a need to place the verb at the end of the sentence?''

When the boy appears to be at a loss for an answer, the captain continues with ''do you mean to say that this is an enigma on which you have never meditated?'' His diagnosis of the boy's failings is typical Dickinson. ''You do not feel,'' the captain says, ''the activity of the active mood, the passivity of the passive, let alone the pregnant indeterminacy inherent in deponent verbs.''

Though there is a murder in the book, it does not appear until page 112. A stag's antler is the lethal weapon and the author makes some characteristic cross-references between deer in rut and men and women in love. The motive for the murder - and nothing essential to suspense being given away here - is the securing of the profits from an author's copyrights. While Mr. Dickinson is not for every taste, he is certainly a change from the mayhem of, say, Robert Ludlum. He reminds us that even T. S. Eliot's ''Wasteland'' is a detective story of sorts in which modern man is, at least spiritually, killed off.
reviewed Hindsight on + 386 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Basic plot: During WWII, 12-year-old Peter Rogers' boarding school is evacuated to the country. There is a woman next door, Molly, who knew his father before his birth. She invites him to tea every Sunday. On one of these Sundays he finds the body of a dead teacher on the school grounds. The death is ruled accidental. Forty years later, Rogers is a crime novelist. He runs into a biographer working on someone else who also knew Molly. He asks Rogers to write what he remembers of Molly from his years at the boarding school, to see if any of it is helpful. As Rogers writes down his memories, more and more of them begin to surface. As an adult, he suddenly sees things he was oblivious to as a child. It soon becomes apparent that the accidental death was anything but.

My take: Despite its short length, this is a far departure from Dickinsons' books for young adults. I had to go on his website to be sure it was the same author. It is, and this book is listed under his "adult" books. Not for any "adult" content, but because the narration is exceedingly dry and cerebral. The parts of the book dealing with the grown-up Rogers are more about thought and ideas than actual events. The parts dealing with 12-year-old Rogers are so filled with boarding school slang that American readers might want some sort of glossary. I found the beginning such hard going I almost didn't persist. Once I got into the book, things got better.
reviewed Hindsight on + 386 more book reviews
Basic plot: During WWII, 12-year-old Peter Rogers' boarding school is evacuated to the country. There is a woman next door, Molly, who knew his father before his birth. She invites him to tea every Sunday. On one of these Sundays he finds the body of a dead teacher on the school grounds. The death is ruled accidental. Forty years later, Rogers is a crime novelist. He runs into a biographer working on someone else who also knew Molly. He asks Rogers to write what he remembers of Molly from his years at the boarding school, to see if any of it is helpful. As Rogers writes down his memories, more and more of them begin to surface. As an adult, he suddenly sees things he was oblivious to as a child. It soon becomes apparent that the accidental death was anything but.

My take: Despite its short length, this is a far departure from Dickinsons' books for young adults. I had to go on his website to be sure it was the same author. It is, and this book is listed under his "adult" books. Not for any "adult" content, but because the narration is exceedingly dry and cerebral. The parts of the book dealing with the grown-up Rogers are more about thought and ideas than actual events. The parts dealing with 12-year-old Rogers are so filled with boarding school slang that American readers might want some sort of glossary. I found the beginning such hard going I almost didn't persist. Once I got into the book, things got better.
reviewed Hindsight on + 386 more book reviews
Basic plot: During WWII, 12-year-old Peter Rogers' boarding school is evacuated to the country. There is a woman next door, Molly, who knew his father before his birth. She invites him to tea every Sunday. On one of these Sundays he finds the body of a dead teacher on the school grounds. The death is ruled accidental. Forty years later, Rogers is a crime novelist. He runs into a biographer working on someone else who also knew Molly. He asks Rogers to write what he remembers of Molly from his years at the boarding school, to see if any of it is helpful. As Rogers writes down his memories, more and more of them begin to surface. As an adult, he suddenly sees things he was oblivious to as a child. It soon becomes apparent that the accidental death was anything but.

My take: Despite its short length, this is a far departure from Dickinsons' books for young adults. I had to go on his website to be sure it was the same author. It is, and this book is listed under his "adult" books. Not for any "adult" content, but because the narration is exceedingly dry and cerebral. The parts of the book dealing with the grown-up Rogers are more about thought and ideas than actual events. The parts dealing with 12-year-old Rogers are so filled with boarding school slang that American readers might want some sort of glossary. I found the beginning such hard going I almost didn't persist. Once I got into the book, things got better.
reviewed Hindsight on + 386 more book reviews
Basic plot: During WWII, 12-year-old Peter Rogers' boarding school is evacuated to the country. There is a woman next door, Molly, who knew his father before his birth. She invites him to tea every Sunday. On one of these Sundays he finds the body of a dead teacher on the school grounds. The death is ruled accidental. Forty years later, Rogers is a crime novelist. He runs into a biographer working on someone else who also knew Molly. He asks Rogers to write what he remembers of Molly from his years at the boarding school, to see if any of it is helpful. As Rogers writes down his memories, more and more of them begin to surface. As an adult, he suddenly sees things he was oblivious to as a child. It soon becomes apparent that the accidental death was anything but.

My take: Despite its short length, this is a far departure from Dickinsons' books for young adults. I had to go on his website to be sure it was the same author. It is, and this book is listed under his "adult" books. Not for any "adult" content, but because the narration is exceedingly dry and cerebral. The parts of the book dealing with the grown-up Rogers are more about thought and ideas than actual events. The parts dealing with 12-year-old Rogers are so filled with boarding school slang that American readers might want some sort of glossary. I found the beginning such hard going I almost didn't persist. Once I got into the book, things got better.
reviewed Hindsight on + 386 more book reviews
Basic plot: During WWII, 12-year-old Peter Rogers' boarding school is evacuated to the country. There is a woman next door, Molly, who knew his father before his birth. She invites him to tea every Sunday. On one of these Sundays he finds the body of a dead teacher on the school grounds. The death is ruled accidental. Forty years later, Rogers is a crime novelist. He runs into a biographer working on someone else who also knew Molly. He asks Rogers to write what he remembers of Molly from his years at the boarding school, to see if any of it is helpful. As Rogers writes down his memories, more and more of them begin to surface. As an adult, he suddenly sees things he was oblivious to as a child. It soon becomes apparent that the accidental death was anything but.

My take: Despite its short length, this is a far departure from Dickinsons' books for young adults. I had to go on his website to be sure it was the same author. It is, and this book is listed under his "adult" books. Not for any "adult" content, but because the narration is exceedingly dry and cerebral. The parts of the book dealing with the grown-up Rogers are more about thought and ideas than actual events. The parts dealing with 12-year-old Rogers are so filled with boarding school slang that American readers might want some sort of glossary. I found the beginning such hard going I almost didn't persist. Once I got into the book, things got better.