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Two Sides of the Face Midwinter Tales   By: (1863-1944)

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Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch’s collection of short stories, set against the backdrop of midwinter, presents readers with a captivating exploration of the complexities of human nature. Two Sides of the Face takes us on a remarkable journey through a range of emotions, from heartwarming tales to haunting narratives, leaving a lasting impression on the reader.

The anthology consists of fourteen carefully crafted stories, each distinct in its own right. Quiller-Couch showcases his masterful storytelling ability by immersing readers into the lives of his characters, while also delving into the darker corners of the human psyche. With his evocative prose and vivid descriptions, the author effortlessly pulls us into the freezing landscapes and somber atmospheres that define these winter tales.

One of the highlights of the collection is Quiller-Couch’s uncanny ability to create rich and authentic characters. From the unyielding determination of a young woman in "Frozen Margot" to the chilling transformation of a man in "The Seventh Man," each protagonist captures the reader’s attention and maintains it throughout their respective stories. The author’s keen observations of human behavior and his ability to convey complex emotions make his characters relatable and believable, regardless of the era in which the tales are set.

Midwinter serves not only as a narrative backdrop but also as a symbolic element throughout the collection. Quiller-Couch ingeniously weaves the harshness of winter into the narratives, using it as a metaphor for the cold and unforgiving aspects of life. This recurring motif, coupled with the author’s elegant prose, creates an atmosphere that magnifies the impact of each story.

The pacing of the tales is another notable aspect that sets this collection apart. Quiller-Couch expertly balances the slow and contemplative stories, such as "The Roll-Call of the Reef," with more action-packed narratives, like "The Affair at the Semiramis Hotel." This diversity in pacing ensures that the reader remains engaged from start to finish, as each story unfolds with its own unique rhythm and energy.

While Two Sides of the Face Midwinter Tales excels on many fronts, there are moments where the complexity of the prose might prove challenging for some readers. Quiller-Couch’s poetic language, while undoubtedly beautiful, occasionally hinders the flow of the narratives. However, for those willing to invest time and concentration, the rewards are well worth the effort.

In conclusion, Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch’s Two Sides of the Face Midwinter Tales presents a captivating and thought-provoking exploration of the human experience. With his exquisite storytelling and profound understanding of the human psyche, Quiller-Couch proves himself as a literary talent deserving of recognition. Whether you enjoy supernatural mysteries or tales of love and loss, this collection has something for everyone, making it an enthralling read for any lover of exceptional storytelling.

First Page:

TWO SIDES OF THE FACE.

MIDWINTER TALES.

By

A.T. Quiller Couch.

CONTENTS

Stephen of Steens.

The Horror on the Stair.

The Mazed Election (1768).

The Hotwells Duel.

Cleeve Court.

The Collaborators.

The Rider in the Dawn.

My Lady's Coach.

STEPHEN OF STEENS.

A Tale of Wild Justice.

I.

Beside a high road in the extreme West of England stands a house which you might pass many times without suspecting it of a dark history or, indeed, any history worth mention. The country itself, which here slopes westward from the Mining District to Mount's Bay, has little beauty and unless you happen to have studied it little interest. It is bare, and it comes near to be savage without attaining to the romantic. It includes, to be sure, one or two spots of singular beauty; but they hide themselves and are not discoverable from the road, which rewards you only by its extravagant wealth of wild flowers, its clean sea breeze, and perhaps a sunset flaming across the low levels and silhouetting the long shoulder of Godolphin Hill between you and the Atlantic, five miles distant.

Noting, as you passed, the size of the house, its evident marks of age, and the meanness of its more modern outbuildings, you would set it down for the residence of an old yeoman family fallen on evil days... Continue reading book >>




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