I just finished reading Shirley Hazzard’s first novel, The Evening of the Holiday (1966). It’s a short thing, 138 pages in my edition, and a delightful early-summer celebration of climate and place. That is, Hazzard’s real interest is the Tuscan countryside, with quiet villas and old gardens. There’s a startlingly sudden view of an old fresco in a monastery that must be a forerunner of the even more amazing scene in The English Patient. Hazzard doesn’t much bother with characters—purposefully, I think. Two people, an Italian architect and an English/Italian visitor, have an affair. We are not given much about their attraction to one another, or the other aspects of their lives on which the affair must impinge. It ends, as it no doubt must. That’s the point, almost as in Ecclesiastes or Henry James: human matters take place in spaces and times so vast that the wonder is that anyone takes them to heart.