I enjoy a drink, perhaps too much, but every now and again I sip an ale so fine that I fall off my stool. I’m not pissed, yet, but when you’ve sloshed through a zillion pints it is rare to find a beer that ruffles your hair, brings a smile and gives you a warm glow inside.
It was two o’clock on a midweek morning when I realised that my quick dip into Conversations with Spirits had seen half the pages vanish. If fine ale is unusual then a tale woven this well is a CAMRA champion.
EO Higgins takes us back to 1917, where we see the world through the eyes of Trelawney Hart. He’s a drunk, arrogant arse and we like him straight away.
The plot, in which Hart spends a weekend in Kent attempting to debunk a psychic medium, is pacey and immediately engaging. Hart’s own journey of self discovery is made though an endless stream of brandy and wit – offending, endearing and undermining pretty much everyone he meets.
Higgins explores the early twentieth century fascination with Spiritualism with great insight, cleverly working observations into dialogue to deliver facts and genuine disharmony without upsetting the rhythm of the narrative.
In simple terms, this is a brilliant novel. Clever, funny and well worth losing a few hours sleep for.