Leon Garfield Virginia Haviland - Essay

Virginia Haviland

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Black Jack is another] graphic eighteenth-century story from this master of prose [which] suggests his earlier macabre situations and characters, but also possesses an overriding warmth of human kindness…. [Leon Garfield] has reached his highest level in the fresh, rich period story so dramatically told. His full realization of scenes, incidents, and problems indicates the vast research which must lie behind the vivid detail. (pp. 310-11)

Virginia Haviland, in The Horn Book Magazine (copyright © 1969 by The Horn Book, Inc., Boston), June, 1969.

The successful Mr. Garfield is best taken in small doses, and so [Mr. Corbett's Ghost and other stories] is my book. His stylistic bravura and professional technique in fact conceal a remarkably narrow range, so that in time the long atmospheric stories begin to pall. In this book he offers two novellas with, as meat for this sandwich, a brilliant miniature in the Dutch manner. The first ghost story is nearly all atmosphere, ghostly and not far short of ghastly. Devilish clever but not endearing. 'The Simpleton' is … less dependent on stylistic tricks and the better for this. The tale has a neat twist. The centrepiece is 'Vaarlem and Tripp', a marvellous thumbnail portrait of a great Dutch painter drawn by his reluctant apprentice. In fifteen pages Mr. Garfield establishes himself as the master he has often been claimed to be. (p. 180)

The Junior Bookshelf, June, 1969.