(Unofficially) Peter S. Beagle

A Fine and Private Place

A Fine and Private Place
by Peter S. Beagle
cover and illustrations by Darrell K. Sweet
Copyright Peter S. Beagle 1960
Ballantine Del Rey,
Viking Press, Penguin/Roc, others

A Fine and Private Place

A Fine and Private Place
Book of the Month
Club Selection, 1992

A Fine and Private Place
First Edition

The grave's a fine and private place
But none, I think, do there embrace
-Andrew Marvell

A Fine and Private Place was my revelation book. Hey, it's by the author of "The Last Unicorn"! Wow - I didn't know he had written anything else! Maybe I'll give it a try...

I picked it up at a yard sale, cracked it open one windy summer afternoon, and never put it down until I finished it almost a day later. Yes, it's that good. (Psst - he was only 19 when he wrote it. You'll never be able to tell.) It is the only other "early" book of Beagle's that has been in print since it was released (the other is his enchanting The Last Unicorn).

F&P is sort of a love story, sort of an affirmation of life story, and entirely enjoyable. Michael and Laura, two recently dearly departed, meet each other's ghosts in the shady setting of a cemetary. Their burgeoning semi-affair is watched over by a hermit who lives in one of the mausoleums, Mr. Rebeck, whose retreat from life these past dozen or so years (with only a foul-mouthed klepto raven for company) is about to be interrupted by a loud and loveable, yet at times abrasive, widow Klapper. To give anything else away would spoil the book for you, and Zahorski spends far too much time with the analogies (the two couples, the individual characters to characters in "The Last Unicorn" and so on.) so I'll just say: read it.

There have been rumors for several years that a movie is being filmed based on the book, to star Richard Dreyfuss (who has held the rights for several years). The Internet Movie Database lists the movie as "in production" under the genre of Romance, and credits John G. Avildsen (Karate Kid I / II / III, Lean on Me, Save the Tiger) as director. Beagle himself confirmed this in an online chat session in 1996, although to my knowledge nothing has come to fruition yet. Another rumor states that A Fine and Private Place is currently being adapted into a musical play. Hmmm...a singing Raven? I might pay to see that one...

In 1981, The Southern Illinios University at Carbondale Performance Studies Department produced a play "A Fine and Private Place" based on the book, and adapted and directed by Michele Cassella. I have no further information on this production, and would appreciate any knowledge readers may have of stage adaptations of any of Beagle's works.

An early version of Chapter 5 was originally published in 1959 in a collection of writing from the University of Pittsburgh, and the original manuscript version of Chapter 6 (different from that which was eventually incorporated into the book) was published as "The Raven" in Mademoiselle's May 1960 edition.


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