My mother recommended this book to me when I was around 17. Like all good teenagers I utterly disregarded this parental steer – how foolish I was! 10 years later, I finally picked it up, and was transported. The most poetic prose I’ve ever encountered – it may bemuse at first but eventually you are so lulled into Smart’s world that you almost lose sight of your own identity. Read it, then read about its raison-d’être: I guarantee you won’t be bored.
One day, while browsing in a London bookshop, Elizabeth Smart chanced upon a slim volume of poetry by George Barker – and fell passionately in love with him through the printed word. Eventually they communicated directly and, as a result of Barker’s impecunious circumstances, Elizabeth Smart flew both him and his wife from Japan, where he was teaching, to join her in the United States.
Thus began one of the most extraordinary, intense and ultimately tragic love affairs of our time. They never married but Elizabeth bore George Barker four children and their relationship provided the impassioned inspiration for one of the most moving and immediate chronicles of a love affair ever written – `By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’.
Originally published in 1945, this remarkable book is now widely identified as a classic work of poetic prose which, seven decades later, has retained all of its searing poignancy, beauty and power of impact.