Sunday, April 9, 2017

All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams






Josh and I celebrated Valentine's Day the Saturday after because I am trying to lose weight and have joined Weight Watchers.  I weigh in on Thursdays.  So far I've lost ten pounds in the last month in a half.  Something I wasn't able to do on my own for the last two years.  Just knowing I'm going to have to get on that scale in front of  another woman who is going to record it is the impetus to control my eating habits.

But Saturday we went and bought chocolates from a factory.  They were very, very good.  I'd show you but I ate them before I thought of taking a picture.  Ah well, enough of that; on to the review:


All Hallows' EveAll Hallows' Eve by Charles Williams

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is a hard book to review because I feel that Williams was making a lot of statements that weren't clear to me. Therefore, all I can tell you is what I thought the book was about.

At the very beginning, two women are killed. They find themselves, as spirits walking the streets of London. The women, Lester and Evelyn, are entirely alone except for each other. The race around looking for other signs of life. As the travel over the city, we get to know them.

Evelyn is a petty, cruel person who enjoyed tormenting another girl in school named Brenda. Brenda was a weak helpless person who had no one to defend her. She spent most of her time at school trying to escape Evelyn.

Lester, while not exactly a sterling character, found Evelyn's small-minded sadism toward Brenda tiresome. She had tried half-heartedly to prevent Evelyn from getting at Brenda but mostly to stop Evelyn from annoying her, Lester, rather than hurting Brenda whom she also found tiresome.

In this Twilight land Lester and Evelyn undergo changes. This is due to the fact that a sinister figure is on the horizon who is doing his utmost to turning himself into a counterfeit Christ figure.

The Clerk, or Father Simon as he is called by his followers, seems to be able to imitate some of Christ's traits. He apparently heals people of diseases and physical disabilities. He does have supernatural powers, but he has obtained this through witchcraft and nercromancy.

Father Simon, unlike Christ, does not love anyone. I'm not sure he hates anyone. He has a single minded obsession on which he exerts all his energy. His goal in deceiving people is to become worshiped and adored like Christ. His plan is to get the world to come under his dominion and worship him.

His daughter is Brenda and he somehow is able to use her as a portal to communicating with the spirit world. Brenda, as I have said, is a weak, passive creature, hated even by her mother who only does the Clerk's bidding and hopes to make Brenda as miserable as possible.

I do not want to give the story away, but some unexpected turns and developments of character transpires along the way. Some who were weak or indifferent rise to something higher and better, more noble and wonderful than they knew they were capable of. Others who were bent on evil, become more crippled in their mind and emotions. They wither and shrivel as they ever more weakly try to absorb and dominate others.

Charles Williams was a member of the Inklings, along with J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield. Unlike Lewis and Tolkien who placed their stories inside fantasy worlds. Williams surreal tales take place in a contemporary and real setting.

Another difference is that while seeming to attain a definite Christian premise concerning good and evil as well as pointing to an eternal development in the condition of the human soul, Williams seems to veer from Orthodoxy by implying that people can still come to salvation after they are dead.

Overall, a book well worth reading.



View all my reviews



He is writing that sort of book in which we begin by saying, let us suppose that this everyday world were at some one point invaded by the marvelous.

— C. S. Lewis on Charles Williams' novels


https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/w/williams/charles/portrait.jpg
Charles Williams (188601945)

31 comments:

  1. Hi Sharon.

    Congratulations on the weight loss.

    I lost a lot of weight ten years ago. I have mostly kept it off but I still struggle. Sometimes I need to fight what seems like alarming increases in weight. I still do a weekly weigh in on Saturday morning. To this day I still sometimes temper my eating on Fridays as a result :)


    I have read both J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis but not Charles Williams. As you allude to, he sounds like he goes off in some unexpected directions on this book. That sounds interesting to me.

    Have a great week!

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    1. Hi Brian! I wouldn't have guessed you ever needed to lose weight. It can be a constant battle for those of us who enjoy good food. I've arrived at the conclusion that some people don't struggle with their weight because food isn't as important to them.

      I think that you would find Charles Williams highly thought-provoking. He's different than the other Inklings but interesting.

      Have a wonderful week!

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  2. Sharon,

    If you enjoyed this one, you might want to take a look at his _The Greater Trumps_. It has several similar themes, including that of the gradual slide into evil by a character who sees an opportunity to gain power. In addition, another character who seems inconsequential at first begins to develop into a much stronger individual as the evil threat emerges.

    And, I have been struggling with trying to do a post on this work for many months now. It's hard to get a grip on it.

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    1. Fred,

      I checked to see if I have the Greater Trumps and I don't so I am going to have to get a copy. Hmmmm...I just saw the book on Amazon and I know I have that book because it's an omnibus and I read the Place of the Lion from it. This is a continual problem: trying to keep track of my books.

      The premise of The Greater Trumps sounds exactly like something I'd be interested in because I love character development, especially with people who at first seem weak but find that strength to rise to unseen heights.

      I also like reading how a quest for power can lead to personal spiritual enslavement.

      Thanks for sharing that. Now I must find that book!

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  3. Sharon,

    I forgot to mention. If you are interested in Tarot, The Greater Trumps would be something to read. The focus is on a Tarot deck that has great power if one knows how to "awaken" it.

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    1. Fred, Oooh, that sounds really creepy. I fervently believe that people need to be careful about trying to attain supernatural power. They don't know what they could be messing with.

      It reminds me of a story a missionary told me when he was in East Germany, right after the wall came down.

      While most East Germans (at least at that time) were atheists, there was, curiously, a rise in Satanism among the young.

      One young man made an alter with gargoyles in his apartment and got into the habit of talking to the gargoyles.

      One day the gargoyles started talking back. That's when the young man sought out the missionary.

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    2. Sharon,

      Those who try to gain powers considered beyond normal human abilities usually end up hurting themselves, and, unfortunately, others, regardless of whether such powers really exist.

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    3. Sharon,

      I wonder what the gargoyle said. Which was more frightening--that he got one to talk back, which is what he apparently wanted or what it supposedly said.

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    4. Fred,

      That's an interesting question. The missionary didn't say. I assumed it was the fact that they talked at all. As though, suddenly, this man's personal fantasy took on a very real and terrifying dimension.

      The man also wore an upside down cross because he was instructed to, but never knew why. After talking with the missionary and his organization the man said,

      "Oh! That's why the cross."

      As far as your first statement goes: It has been the lust for power and domination from a global level (nations warring) to a personal level (cheating others, controlling our family, friends et al.) that causes so much suffering and destruction.

      On that note, have a great week! :)

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    5. Sharon,

      Sounds just like today. People don't really change, or rather, human nature hasn't changed.

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    6. Hi Fred. No human nature has not changed as history has ably demonstrated.

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  4. I celebrate your WW involvement and success. I do my own WW program (without meetings but with close attention to points), and I have slowly (over 9 weeks) sent 13 pounds the way of all flesh. And the nice thing about WW is how easy it is to return to the "program" even when I "fall off the wagon" on any given day. As the WW folks insist, it is a lifestyle rather than a diet. Hang in there!

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    1. Hi Tim! Good for you! It's funny, I've never seen you but I've always imagined you slender. I don't know if you do that but I tend to automatically paint a picture in my mind of my fellow bloggers without thinking if it's close to reality.

      Of course, that doesn't mean you're heavy. If you're like me there's those dratted ten pounds I'm forever trying to get off.

      Have a great week!

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  5. Sounds like an interesting book. I can't say I know too much about Charles Wiliams, but I certainly know about the Inklings. I got to eat in the Eagle & Child (where they used to meet) a decade ago and I tried to soak up all the great literature in the atmosphere. And wow, ten pounds, that's great for such a short period of time--congratulations!

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    1. Hi Marcia. Thanks for the congrats! I'm envious you got to eat at the Inklings hang out. I would love to do that some day. I'd also like to attend the C.S. Lewis conference one day. The vocal professor at the Music Department where I work goes every time it is held. She's a huge Anglophile. Maybe one day....

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  6. i've never had the pleasure of reading CW; must investigate sometime... i lost fifty lbs. last year and am slowly but surely gaining it back... grrr... it's all those chocolate chip cookies that that Mrs. M makes that strain my resolve.... so it's all her fault...

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    1. Hi Mudpuddle. I think if you like surreal novels where you're not entirely sure what's going on but all the characters are rather mesmerizing, you would like it. But he can feel a little obscure.

      I so feel your pain with the weight gain. This is the THIRD time I've lost this weight. I, too, have a spouse who just loves to eat and is also a fabulous cook.

      Funnily enough, I've been eating chocolate chip cookies this week. The grocery store was selling freshly baked boxes of them.

      And you have to eat them while they're still fresh, right?

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    2. YES,,, or they'll go to waste, or even worse, someone else will get them!!!




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    3. went to the symphony last night: Mozart Requiem, a Purcell arrangement, and a piece in 3 movements by Stravinsky... the mozart was good, of course but i liked the stravinsky best: in spite or because of it's rhythmic oddities and occasional atonality, it was played very well and precisely; a treat to hear an orchestra play that well... although they were rather out of tune on the Purcell...

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    4. Hi Mudpuddle. Do you know Stravinsky is one of my favorite composers? I especially love all the ballets choreographed by George Balanchine for the New York City Ballet to Stravinsky's music.

      I only like the ballet dancers from when Balanchine was alive, though. Today's dancers can't seem to capture the spirit of movement. Maybe because they don't have Balanchine to direct them.

      I bet on the Purcell it was strings that were flat. I hate that.

      Mozart's requiem is sublime. I must now go listen to it.

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    5. You have inspired me to fund a good bio of Stravinsky. Know any?

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    6. Just saw the cookie comment. Josh and I are like children. we have to divide up all the goodies equally or one of us will throw a tantrum (usually me. OK, always me...).

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  7. yes, it might have been the strings; i first noticed it because the brass were sharp... i get haunted by the bassoon opening of Rite of Spring sometimes to the point of distraction; i read a bio of S long ago but can't remember it...

    i was wondering if they still use a 440 A; the whole orchestra sounded sharp, actually..

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    1. I know what you mean about the bassoon opening. I remember the first time I watched the ballet. I was interested to see the ballet that caused so much rioting that Stravinsky had to escape through a basement window.
      The troupe was the Joffrey Ballet. I guess we have become jaded in 100 years because I did not see what was so "scandalous" about it all.

      Strings have a hard time not flatting and brass have a hard time not sharping. I noticed the latter because I play with two tubists, a trombonists and a euphonium player (not together, they are soloists and I accompany them on the piano.) I'm usually polite and say, "The piano is flat". One of them finally said, "Then pull out!" Which is a joke because that's what horn players do if they are sharp. The pull out a valve.

      440A is still standard.

      I'm now listening to Rite of Spring on Spotify. I think I'll go to youtube and find a ballet to go with it.

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    2. i never got a chance to play in an orchestra that did the Rite; i sort of regret it and also am glad i didn't have to keep count through all the changes... my best friend was a horn player who turned down a job with the Boston Symphony because he said it was too much b.s.... anyway, he said it wasn't as bad as it looked on paper... he moved to Mexico and had a long career in various Mexican orchestras... what was i... oh, don't know too much about the ballet side of it except i do recall reading about Igor's initial reception in Paris, at the world premier, i think it was...

      i did play the Firebird suite, though, which was amazingly good; the end where there's an up and down chord progression mainly in the brass about blew the top of my head off(sitting right in front of them, there...) a spine-tingling experience indeed...

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    3. does the euphoniumist play a baritone or an actual double-belled euphonium? the latter are rare now, and the only place i could imagine getting paid for playing it might be in the army or some such... my brother was a baritone player and was right on the verge of being good enough to go professional when he gave it all up and got rich in the computer world... sigh, all that talent gone to waste for mere money...(haha)

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    4. Hi Mudpuddle. I was just talking to my mother about how I would like to live and work in other countries. Ironically, although I live in Texas, I have not visited Mexico. Half the neighbors on my street are Mexican so I guess that's the next best thing.

      I've been to Spain, to Puerto Rico, but not the Spanish speaking country next door. One day...That would have been so cool to perform with Mexican orchestras. Does he still live there?

      You really must have been a good musician that you were able to play such complicated music. Not everyone likes twentieth century music. I do, but only the first half.

      My soloist does play a euphonium. He is an interesting story in himself. He grew up going to a school that was predominately minority and under the poverty line. His two best friends are in jail. He wanted to make something of himself so he is studying to be a band director. He feels like he has been cheated because he was ahead of everyone at school, but now that he is in college he is having to work his tail up to catch up.

      But he is working his tail off and one day he is going to be a good band director.

      You know I know more people who were fine musicians but also had math brains, unlike me, so they got a "real" job and are financially secure. I married a man with a "real" job and now I get to do what I want (yay!).

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    5. from your descriptions, i'd say you definitely have a real job, also... it's just doing something you love, which is wonderful...

      unfortunately my horn player friend died a couple of years ago-he was a smoker-cancer...

      more power to your euphonium student; takes a lot of courage to persevere in a situation like that... tell him i'm rooting for him!

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    6. I'm sorry to hear about your friend. Back in the day everyone smoked. Some quit in time, others like your friend and a few of my relatives did not.

      Thanks for the root! I'll tell him. On a side note, this young man was also the victim of fire. I don't know the story, I've never asked him (and unless he says anything I never will). He's scarred pretty bad and because he's black the scarring is worse, but he hasn't let it stop him. He really is a trooper!

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  8. Congratulations on the weight loss! All Hallows' Eve sounds interesting. I haven't read anything by Charles Williams, though I did read an excellent biography of the Inklings called The Fellowship a couple years ago which pretty thoroughly covers Williams' life and work along with Owen Barfield, Lewis, and Tolkien. Fascinating men!

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    1. Hi Kate, thanks for visiting my blog.

      I really enjoyed browsing through yours. I found your by accident. You had made a very good response on Brian Joseph's review at Babbling Books and it intrigued me, which is how I came to find your blog.

      Judging from your book lists, I think you would like Williams although he is not really like Lewis or Tolkien. You have to kind of acquire a taste for his style.

      I have not read the Fellowship but I read another book,title forgotten, that described the different Inklings. I have that book somewhere....since I just reorganized my library, I should be able to find it....:)

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I welcome comments from anyone with a mutual interest in the subjects I written about.