(Maureen) Mollie Hunter (McIlwraith) The Times Literary Supplement - Essay

The Times Literary Supplement

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Only a poet dares try to convey to the more earthbound of us the emotion he experiences when he sees a rainbow in the sky. A scientist, by reference to refraction, can explain all; but with the explanation the great mystery of artistic experience evaporates like a coastal haze.

Mollie Hunter is a poet, with a strong streak of the scientist in her, a streak which she handles with granite firmness while she uses it to explore the very nature of poetic imagination in her new novel, A Sound of Chariots….

A Sound of Chariots is a tough yet tender, humorous yet tragic, sometimes horrific yet always gentle and compassionate autobiographical (surely?) novel….

Though its theme is the growth and development of the poetic imagination, though its heroine is threatened and haunted through a tortured early adolescence, there is no time for self-pity here, no patience with mawkish concern over the psyche, no necessity for those esoteric intellectual fantasies so common in much of today's writing for the introspective young. This is real life, looked at through a sharply focused microscope and given artistic form.

Mollie Hunter, as admirers of her vivid folk stories and full-blooded historical novels would expect, has given us a brilliantly carpentered, no-nonsense novel of the old-fashioned kind: it has shape, plot, theme and heart. Any seasoned reader with a strong stomach, a social conscience, a sense of humour and an interest in the maturing craftsmanship of a writer will read A Sound of Chariots with delight—and remember it forever.

"The Gift of the Gab," in The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1973; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), No. 3739, September 28, 1973, p. 1113.