Admitting only seemly sounds, the room sheltered none but the decorous. All tables were occupied by women. Waitresses like wardresses kept a reproving eye on performance, repressively mopping a stain or replacing a dropped fork.Try reading that last sentences aloud, hearing its lovely rhythm, the back-and-forth of consonance and assonance, enjoying the imagination that casts a waitress in the warder's role, the fine eye that sees a stain mopped "repressively." Then remember that this line is required to do nothing but set the scene in the tea room--yet Hazzard lavished sufficient attention on it to make it a thing of beauty on its own.
That showiness could easily seem too much: when I read that line aloud to rocketlass, though she understood what I admired she found it overwritten. But encountering the unnecessary perfection of that sentence in the midst of a 340-page novel made me gasp with admiration, reminded of the countless hours of writing and revision necessary to work prose up to such a pitch. As I'd already fallen under the spell of Hazzard's writing, that line struck me like the flourish of a great athlete reveling in his talents--like Randy Johnson breaking off a wicked slider to a banjo-hitting backup just because he can. It's extravagant, even flagrant, but beautiful and breathtaking nonetheless.