Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Its a miracle ...

How marvellous to read a novel one simply cannot put down - I have just spent the last two days engrossed in the 400+ pages of THE MIRACLE, a 1984 novel by Irving Wallace. This is an intriguing drama set at the grotto of Lourdes in France, involving miracles and the return of the Virgin Mary who appeared there to Bernadette in 1858.

Irving Wallace (1916-1990) was one of that generation of prolific novelists (like Irwin Shaw, James Jones, Nevil Shute, Leon Uris) who led fascinating lives (in the second world war he served in Frank Capra's film unit and later became a screen-writer); he wrote large novels with lots of characters, sexual themes, and certainly keeps one reading until that very satisfactory ending .... as a teenager I read his THE CHAPMAN REPORT back in 1962, and the film of it is one of our favourite Trash Classics here (1962, Claire Bloom, Glynis Johns, Shelley Winters, Jane Fonda, Cukor labels). He also wrote THE PRIZE, a popular film in 1963 which I have not seen, and his other novels include THE MAN, THE SEVEN MINUTES, THE FAN CLUB, THE SEVENTH SECRET. These kind of reads involve a lot of research, like done by those later writers like Tom Clancy, John Grisham etc.

THE MIRACLE: The Vatican announces that the Virgin Mary will return to Lourdes this year to perform a miracle cure! Will it be a miracle? Or will it be a fraud? Precious lives, loves, and happiness are at stake: Ken Clayton: the young American who abandons medical treatment for the chance of miracle; Edith Moore: the Englishwoman whose miracle cure has made her famous against her will; Gisele Dupree, the French girl whose desperation to escape Lourdes will lead to violence; Liz Finch: the hard-bitten journalist who wants to "expose" Lourdes and its miracles. The ill Russian supremo in disguise hoping to be cured, the beautiful blind Italian girl and the Basque revolutionary who intends to blow up the famous Grotto ..... At the climax comes a surprise twist or two that only a master storyteller could pull off.  First published in 1984 THE MIRACLE has everything we expect from a good read: authentic detail, fast-paced plotting, suspense, and vivid characters. 

It may be 'junk fiction' -  just like there are junk movies - but once you get into it, you are hooked. I loved every delicious plot twist of it, and may now want to go back to THE CHAPMAN REPORT. As Miss Prism says to Cecily in Oscar's THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST: “The good end happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means".
We are now away for a week by the sea in Ireland .... back with lots more, starting with Melina Mercouri as STELLA in 1955, Oliver Reed's THE PARTY'S OVER in 1964, some more Trash Classic B-Movie Heaven items starring Ava Gardner, Brigitte Bardot, Jayne Mansfield, young Joanna Lumley, Julie Andrews, Shirley McLaine, June Allyson, and we will get back to more Marcello Mastroianni, Romy Schneider, Catherne Deneuve, and all that Shakespeare.

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