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A Gentle Occupation

By (author) Dirk Bogarde
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Vintage Publishing, London, United Kingdom
Imprint: Chatto & Windus
Published: 29th Feb 1980
Dimensions: w 140mm h 200mm
Weight: 486g
ISBN-10: 0701125055
ISBN-13: 9780701125059
Barcode No: 9780701125059

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Kirkus US
From the actor-author of two graceful memoirs: a nicely crafted and delightfully nostalgic piece of movie-ish fiction about a batch of British officer chaps just after World War II; it's sequinned with neo-Coward patter and with romances of various depths and persuasions. Bogarde sets his story on a fictional (Indonesian) island where the under-supplied British find themselves saddled with a double task: absorbing and rehabilitating Dutch survivors from Japanese camps; and keeping the peace as the native revolution heats up. Enter Christian Rooke, cut loose from his air-photographic-interpreter post, longing for home, but due to be shifted to an impossible position as Company Commander in a dangerous outpost. He is saved, however, by elegant Major Geoffrey Nettles, who - in a chirpy seduction scene - trades one night of gay abandon for Rooke's far cozier appointment on the island as ADC to General Leo Cutts. Cutts, although not exactly top-drawer socially, is a good and respected and well-liked soldier. He is, however, bedding Dora Foto, a wily and nasty Belgian informer who once caused the death of four men and is now exerting a malign influence on General Cutts. While young Rooke wonders how to excise Dora without causing irreparable harm to Cutts, he falls in love with half-caste Emmie (thanks to avuncular intervention by Nettles, they at last decide to marry); and a sadder romantic fate awaits officer Pullen, who must leave Dutch lover Claire when her husband, presumed dead in a camp, returns. (Pull in for parting close-up: "l love you very much./ I know./ Nothing will ever change that./ Yes.") In addition to offstage carnage, there will be a messy maiming and a killing or two; Dora will at last be booted forth with Cutts none the wiser; and, throughout, Nettles expounds his views on coarse Americans and other dregs of humanity ("plankton; the universe is phosphorescent with their biological mediocrity"). With cool, spiffy, clipped dialogue in the grand tradition and a bit of gore to keep things hopping: a thoroughly good show. (Kirkus Reviews)