Books Magazine

A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

Posted on the 05 July 2011 by Jimblack78
A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

From Goodreads...
Conversing in a mausoleum with the dead, an eccentric recluse is tugged back into the world by a pair of ghostly lovers bearing an extraordinary gift—the final chance for his own happiness. When challenged by a faithless wife and aided by a talking raven, the lives of the living and the dead may be renewed by courage and passion, but only if not belatedly. Told with an elegiac wisdom, this delightful tale of magic and otherworldly love is a timeless work of fantasy imbued with hope and wonder. 

Most of the books I read are science fiction but on occasion I like to pick up a fantasy book.  "A Fine and Private Place" was my latest  and it is an amazing read.  The various love, and life, stories are very touching.  With the death of my mother this year the themes of love, life, and death have weighed heavily on my mind.  Stories like this one help me to get in touch with my thoughts on these subjects.  I believe this will be one of the books I return to in the future.  The death of loved ones is something that we all have to deal with at some point in our lives.  I would be curious as to whether the author was dealing with such a loss when he wrote this novel.
It features some of the best character studies I have seen.  By the time you finish the story, it seems like the characters are people you have known for a long time. You will remember them long after you read this book.
In some ways, I can see where Neil Gaiman must have been influenced by the writing of Peter S. Beagle.  The character development and themes are many of the ones explored by Gaiman in his writing career.  One of his most popular characters from the Sandman comic series was Death.  She would be right at home in this novel.
It is hard to describe this book without giving the story away.  If you like plot driven books, stay away from this one.  If fantastically developed characters trapped between love and death appeal to you, this is a nearly perfect book.  One of the most amazing things about it is the author was only 19 when he wrote it.  How he could gain such insight into people at that young of an age is beyond me.

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By Connor Cochran
posted on 11 July at 19:26
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Thanks for the lovely comments on Peter's first book. (It's the one that made me a lifelong fan of his work, when I read it at 14). As Peter's business manager, I can fill in some of the blanks for you.

1) Peter was not dealing with any tragic death, or the loss of a loved one, when he wrote the book. It's just a story that occurred to him one day when he was 18, while walking with his mother through Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, which is located only a block from the apartment building he grew up in.

2) Neil Gaiman has often said that his version of Death in SANDMAN was directly inspired by Peter's 1962 short story, "Come Lady Death." He also says that A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE and Kipling's THE JUNGLE BOOK are the two main inspirations for his award-winning YA novel, THE GRAVEYARD BOOK.

All best,

Connor Cochran Business Manager for Peter S. Beagle