Some of you may know that I’m focusing upon Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage sequence in part for my PhD thesis. One of my supervisors and I have decided that the first to fifth volumes will be good to focus upon, and with that in mind, I present my thoughts about the fourth and fifth books in the sequence – The Tunnel and Interim.
The Tunnel ****
The Tunnel is the fourth volume of Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage series, which follows the fascinating protagonist Miriam Henderson. This particular novel finds Miriam firmly ensconced within London, where she works as an assistant to a dentist.
In my opinion, The Tunnel is not the best, nor the most interesting, volume of Pilgrimage to date; indeed, at points, it feels almost static. I found myself far less interested in the external storyline than in Miriam until almost the end of the novel. Of course, it is still spectacularly written, but The Tunnel is my least favourite Richardson novel to date.
Interim is engaging from the first, and as a construct, Miriam becomes even more spectacular; she is realised in such detail that she could step to life from the page and absorb herself into modern life without lacking anything. There is a real dreamlike quality to her here, which I absolutely adored.
Richardson’s writing, as ever, is beautiful throughout; more so, I feel, than in The Tunnel. Scenes are evoked down to the smallest detail; like Miriam, they are almost achingly realistic. It feels, in Interim, as though there is a change of direction; Miriam is still our protagonist, but the comparably large cast of secondary characters are focused upon far more than are the secondary characters in the previous novels of the sequence. There is less emphasis placed upon Miriam at points, and whilst she does spring to life as she always does, it does not feel as though much development of her character and mindset has been provided overall. Still, Interim is undoubtedly enjoyable and well rounded. My only qualm is that the penultimate chapter felt a little anticlimactic, and the ending was a little underwhelming.