A Touch Of The Sun

This morning I finished reading my Folio Society edition of ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens.

I will adhere to my normal practice of not giving away the story, despite its great reputation. The book is very well crafted, displaying a number of developing relationships in a young man’s transition from humble origins to gentrification. There is plenty of humour in this otherwise tragic, yet romantic, tale. Two major characters are unforgettable, and “What larks” is a phrase still enjoyed. Dickens’s descriptive powers of place and scene are at their height. Much of the action is carried along at a fast pace; its dramatic opening and penultimate sequences are gripping.

Christopher Hibbert’s erudite introduction puts the novel into the context of the author’s life and work.

I scanned the last seven of Charles Keeping’s emotional, detailed, illustrations which demonstrate his mastery of line.

In ‘She withdrew her hands from the dish and fell back a step or two’ the artist faithfully portrays these hands as the author describes them.

‘I saw her running at me, shrieking, with a whirl of fire blazing all about her’

‘Mr Jaggers stood before the fire. Wemmick leaned back in his chair, staring at me’

‘I saw in his hand a stone hammer with a long heavy handle’

‘We went ahead among many skiff and wherries, briskly’

‘I laid my hand on his breast, and he put both his hands upon it’

‘What I had never felt before was the friendly touch of the once insensible hand’

Late in the afternoon the lingering pall draped over our land gave way to a sunny period, so we drove into the forest to enjoy it. Given the hour, we could take just one option before the light failed.

We settled on Highwood Lane in the north.

Ripples and reflections supplemented the stream running alongside;

smoke spiralled into the atmosphere redolent of burning leaves;

working horses some in rugs, were fed or rested.

I wandered about the woodland, so different from yesterday’s murky scenes. A touch of the sun makes all the difference.

This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s excellent Hordle Chinese Take Away fare, with which Jackie finished the Chenin Blanc and I drank more of the Shiraz.


  1. Your header photo has a mystical flavor in a way. We also enjoyed the horse images. The black and white draft horse is unique in that seldom do you see a horse with two such dramatically different color ears.

  2. Great drawings, a usual, and wonderful photos (as usual, too). I particularly like the way you caught the shadows (the pony and the branches).

    Did you like the Shiraz with the Chinese food? I like Shiraz (or Syrah), but I have a hard time pairing it with food.

  3. You live in such a beautiful part of the world, Derrick. And you’re right, a touch of sun adds so much to a scene.

  4. “What I had never felt before was the friendly touch of the once insensible hand’…amazing writing and drawing! I so appreciate Mr. Dickens AND Mr. Keeping! 🙂
    Nature was busy being artistic! Thank you for capturing reflections, ripples, light, shadows, equines, etc.! All an important piece of the beautiful masterpiece which bring such peace and joy!
    Pony and Shadow… <3 🙂
    A touch of sun does make the day! And your posts are always a bright light in our days! 🙂
    (((HUGS))) 🙂

  5. Mastery of line is the perfect description for Mr. Keeping’s talent. I enjoyed the big field horses, pony and shadow, and of course the sunlit mossy root which looks like a soft green snake in a sea of fallen leaves.

  6. I’m getting ready to return to my manuscript Louisa’s Legacy. In the opening scene, it’s 1880 and my great-grandmother is at London docks about to board a ship for Australia. I’m thinking I could reread some Dicken’s passages to get the feel of it. A little bit earlier than my time, but should still be worthwhile.

  7. I have rarely witnessed such ingenious application of lines for producing vivid illustrations capturing the intended atmosphere and emotions as in Charles Keeping’s sketches. You two have deftly captured the play of light on the woodlands and pools of water in the briefly offered window. The ponies look majestic as usual.

  8. You had some beautiful low angled sun for photography on that forest drive, Derrick and Jackie! I loved all the photos, especially the draft horses with their large feet ad hairy fetlocks.

    Charles Keeping’s illustrations are wonderful. He is indeed a master of line.

  9. The header photo is exactly a touch of sun and makes the point about how a sunbeam can change the world. I’m sure that’s why you selected it. The “mastery of line” is so true.

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