Feeling, as I did, a trifle lonesome with my wife and daughter out of town for the week, “The Elfin Ship” by James P. Blaylock provided the ideal anodyne. It’s a warm fireplace and mug of hot, honeyed tea kind of book. Literature as comfort food.
“The Elfin Ship” fits the tradition of the leisurely road trip filled with adventures and perils that feel at less-than-serious on the surface, but ominous beneath the light-hearted prose. The book would be at home on the shelf next to “The Wind in the Willows,” “The Hobbit,” and “The Face in the Frost.” It’s the upper middle-class Englishman analogue stirred from his complacency and sent on a colorful round trip. You never truly fear he’ll fail to return and get to enjoy every way stop, every pipe smoked and tankard of ale drunk.
It is not easy feat maintaining this tone consistently for the duration of a long narrative. Given that “The Elfin Ship” was Mr. Blaylock’s first published novel, my hat is off to him.
My apologies for the brevity of this post. I’ve got some house-cleaning to attend to. My ladies are due back home in a couple of days and I fear my short reversion to bachelorhood has left the place rather a mess.