I finished reading On The Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin last week. It was one of my challenges to myself to read 5 Whitbread Winners, and I think that this was the last one. I really liked it. What is odd, is that I remember reading about the book when it first came out (1982) and thought it sounded interesting. When I began reading it, I recognized right away that it was a book that I had wanted to read a long time ago.
Simply put, this is the story of identical twin brothers. Which right there grabs my attention. I have always been fascinated with twins (part genealogy, part psychology). Lewis and Benjamin Jones are born to simple Welsh parents, who life a simple rural life. The brothers are quite different from one another, yet are totally devoted to each other, to the point where one seemingly sacrifices his life (not literally, but figuratively). Lewis is the rough and tough brother, interested in the more traditionally "male" sorts of things, like farming, airplanes, and women, while Benjamin seems to be more his mother's son, in that he is very introverted, quiet, shy and not willing to take any risks at all. Very unadventurous. However, as different as they are, they cannot seem to exist without the other. There are several times in the story where they are separated and it is unbearable for them. In the end, they stay together through all of the changes of the 20th century, until death.
Essentially, the book tells the story of one life, through 2 different people! The writing is outstanding and it is another one of those books that I would love to be in a class with to dissect and examine with others. Fascinating story!