One Green Bottle, by Elizabeth Coxhead. 281 pages. London: Faber and Faber, 1951. Price, 10/6.
Here at last is an English-language novel completely centered on climbing and written by someone who obviously “knows her stuff.” In this case, it is climbing of a highly specialized sort—rock climbing in Wales. The story, told with frank modern realism and a good deal of humor, is about Cathy Canning, a rough, tough, amoral little guttersnipe from the Liverpool slums, and how she eventually develops into a fine, strong person through her experiences and her relationships with others in climbing.
Unfortunately, I find myself unable to give a proper critical estimate of style, plot and delineation of character—except for my irritation at an unsatisfactory ending, I was enjoying myself too much to notice them! My intense interest was all in the climbing. There is rock work of every sort here, from the frequent humors of bouldering and taking out novices, to the high exhilaration of leading a “Very Severe”; and there is climbing in all weathers—sun, rain and mist, wind, snow, moonlight. Miss Coxhead observes sensitively and describes vividly the details of fact, sensation and mood; any follower of the sport can enjoy continually the pleasures of recognition. The indoor setting—a Welsh Youth Hostel full of climbers, all completely concentrated on their ascents, but good-humoredly ready to befriend strangers equally interested—is also most familiar to anyone who has stayed in similar, if perhaps less economical, British centers. The whole climbing atmosphere of the book is lively and authentic.