Uncle Stephen

      Forrest Reid

Uncle Stephen

Forrest Reid (1875-1947), the Ulster novelist, spent his life in Belfast, in the north of Ireland, save for a period as an undergraduate at Christ's College, Cambridge, where he received a B.A. in 1908. He numbered among his many friends and acquaintances George William Russell (A. E.), E. M. Forster, Edmund Gosse, C. S. Lewis, and Walter de le Mare, as well as various Uranians such as Theo Bartholomew, Osbert Burdett, and Mark Andre Raffalovich. Despite his sixteen novels, his two autobiographies, and a range of other works, despite being a founding member of the Irish Academy of Letters and an honorary Doctor of Letters of Queen's University in Belfast, despite his novel "Young Tom" being awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, Forrest Reid closely borders both oblivion and canonicity. However, this author, who has been aptly dubbed the "Arch-Priest of a Minor Cult," deserves reconsideration and perhaps a place in the pantheon of English letters. "The Tom Barber Trilogy" - composed of the very distinct novels "Uncle Stephen" (1931), "The Retreat; or, The Machinations of Henry" (1936), and "Young Tom; or, Very Mixed Company" (1944) - is Forrest Reid's magnum opus.

Read online
  • 70

    Young Tom or Very Mix Company

      Forrest Reid

Young Tom or Very Mix Company

In many ways, ten-year-old Tom is like other boys: his life centres on his parents, school, and his best friend Pascoe. But he also has another existence, equally real, in his dreams and imagination. In this novel, we follow him as he plays with his three canine companions, Barker, Pincher and Roger, befriends and communicates with a rat and a squirrel, and tries to find out what happened to Ralph Seaford, the dead boy whose ghost now haunts Tom's grandmother's attic. In exquisite prose, without sentimentality, exaggeration, or a single false note, Reid brings to life Tom, his greatest creation, and accomplishes the difficult feat of allowing readers to revisit and experience anew the wonders and mysteries of childhood. This [Valancourt] edition features a new introduction by Andrew Doyle.

Young Tom (1944) completes the trilogy of novels featuring Tom Barber, which began with Uncle Stephen (1931) and The Retreat (1936), and it is probably Forrest Reid's finest achievement. Acclaim from contemporary critics was unanimous, and the book won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize as the best novel of the year.

Read online
  • 54

    The Retreat_Machinations of Henry

      Forrest Reid

The Retreat_Machinations of Henry

The second of Reid’s three novels featuring Tom Barber, The Retreat earned universal critical acclaim when first published in 1936.

The Retreat opens with a vivid dream about an evil sorcerer and his boy apprentice. The dreamer is Tom Barber, age 13, who, like many intelligent and sensitive children, moves between the world of everyday life and that of the imagination. “I pretend things, and all at once they become real,” Tom says, and they become real for the reader as well, as we follow him over the course of one summer during which the lines between reality and fantasy are frequently blurred.

In his depiction of Tom’s fantastic adventures in an unseen world – his attempts to thwart the malign influence of the cat Henry, whom he has observed scratching cabbalistic symbols on the gravel path; his meetings with the beautiful boy-angel Gamelyn; his conversations with animals; his experiences in the Garden of Eden – Forrest Reid’s delicate artistry is at its finest and most delightful.

CONTEMPORARY REVIEWS

“He writes with such ease and simplicity, his stories, always unusual, are so exquisitely told, and when, as often happens, he takes you into regions not too far distant from fairyland, he has only to wave his wand to make you believe.” – Ralph Straus, Sunday Times

“[An] eerie, unusual, quite enchanting book.” – Guardian

“A book of fine and haunting quality.” – Dublin Magazine

“He has a simple story to tell, but he tells it with the fastidious craftsmanship of a Flaubert or a Turgenev, and because it is told supremely well it lives in the memory long after more strident dramas have been forgotten. . . . [The Retreat] is a book which everyone who has not wholly lost touch with his youth will be certain to enjoy.” – Irish Independent

“Mr. Reid is one of the most remarkable living fantasists . . . [A]t once charming and a psychological tour de force.” – London Mercury

Read online
  • 16

    Young Tom or Very Mixed Company

      Forrest Reid

Young Tom or Very Mixed Company

In many ways, ten-year-old Tom is like other boys: his life centres on his parents, school, and his best friend Pascoe. But he also has another existence, equally real, in his dreams and imagination. In this novel, we follow him as he plays with his three canine companions, Barker, Pincher and Roger, befriends and communicates with a rat and a squirrel, and tries to find out what happened to Ralph Seaford, the dead boy whose ghost now haunts Tom's grandmother's attic. In exquisite prose, without sentimentality, exaggeration, or a single false note, Reid brings to life Tom, his greatest creation, and accomplishes the difficult feat of allowing readers to revisit and experience anew the wonders and mysteries of childhood. This [Valancourt] edition features a new introduction by Andrew Doyle.

Young Tom (1944) completes the trilogy of novels featuring Tom Barber, which began with Uncle Stephen (1931) and The Retreat (1936), and it is probably Forrest Reid's finest achievement. Acclaim from contemporary critics was unanimous, and the book won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize as the best novel of the year.

Read online
  • 11