I found ‘The Heat of the Day’, by Elizabeth Bowen, in a secondhand bookstore in Berlin a month ago, and have been utterly devouring it since. It’s a love story-cum-spy novel set in World War II London, and was written in 1949.
They don’t make ’em like this anymore, no Lawd. Look at this passage, about an outdoor concert:
Pairs of lovers, fatigued by their day alone with each other, were glad to enter this element not themselves: When their looks once more met it was with refreshed love. Mothers tired by being mothers forgot their children as their children forgot them – one held her baby as though it had been a doll. Married couples who had sat down in apathetic closeness to one another could be seen to begin to draw a little apart, each recapturing some virginal inner dream. Such elderly people as had not been driven home by the disappearance of sun from the last chair fearlessly exposed their years to the dusk, in a lassitude they could have shown at no other time.
These were the English.
Again, this is a passage about people sitting and listening to music. It gets even more foliaged when the characters emerge.
I had never heard of the book or the author before I saw it in the 3 euro bin. It’s not a forgotten classic or anything, but there’s something to be said for being a literary postcard.