What makes a great novel?

In my last post I talked about ‘Thursbitch’ by Alan Garner and I want to continue talking about that a bit more, in particular with regard to what makes a great novel. Now, I wouldn’t claim Thursbitch to be great. Not because I dislike it, mainly because as I said before I think there’s a lot in it that will put people off.

In music, or so I’ve heard, there is the idea of the Blue note, the gap between notes, the bit you fill in yourself. For me a great illustration of this is ‘Neptune’ by Holst in his Planet Suite. The closing part is superb I can imagine being in a spacecraft at the edge of the solar system drifting deeper and deeper into space. There’s hardly any music in the closing bars (or at least not to my un-trained ears) but there’s so much atmosphere or rather feeling.

Great novels also have this. That time when you’ve read the final page, closed it and sit thinking about it. Thursbitch has this, as do many others.

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