It is many years since I read The Rising Tide, probably the best known of the novels of the not so well known Irish writer, Molly Keane. I believe she belonged to the old Anglicized ascendancy that lost its authority after Ireland became a Republic, and the novel is about an old country mansion that gradually went to seed.
I can’t be sure of the date, though I am certain of the place where I read the book, the first place I felt to be my own domain. This was the set I occupied in my second year at university, two thirds of a life ago, a large square sitting room with what was the largest undergraduate bedroom in college. I must have had about 400 square feet, large by the standards of today’s condominiums for single people, massive for a student. When I went back, twelve years later, on extended leave from the British Council to work on what I still think of as the height of my academic achievement, I asked to be given those rooms again. The college indulgently obliged. I was just in time, for a couple of years later they were divided up into two or three bedsits.