With settings ranging from smart London offices to remote country houses, from Cambridge in the early 1950s to a colony of voluntary artistic exiles in the South of Spain, and from Highgate to Jamaica and the USA, this new collection from Frederic Raphael is as incisive, original and enjoyable as we would expect from the author of Oxbridge Blues and The Glittering Prizes. A young couple abandon the rat-race for a pastoral idyll in 'The People in Euclid', until a disturbing new presence imposes upon their happiness - reminding them of what they escaped from, and inextricably linking his life with theirs. In 'Union Jack Development', the sad tale of Antonia and Stewart - pieced together from letters and diary fragments left in a drawer - casts a sinister aura over the magical Jamaican holiday house. After weeks of frantic preparation, the entire village of Torreroja - resplendent with flowers, coloured lights and with proud Mayor Don Antonio to the fore - all wait with rapt anticipation to honour 'the face with saved Spain for God' on 'The Day Franco Came'.
We meet extraordinary characters from the worlds of film, theatre and literature - like Sherman Shapiro, 'The Old Pro', who offers a budding screenwriter his first chance to break into Hollywood, but whose own life turns out rather weak in the third act; Jake Nathanson, ebullient on his heady passage to eminence, and rather less spritely on is ay down in 'Quixote Shmixote'; and Magnis Molyneux, who in 'Seniority' addresses himself to his vocation - literature - with monastic severity. We see how quickly 'the moment passes', and how flattery, favours and auld acquaintances can conveniently be forgotten. Think of England is a stylish, subtle and highly accomplished collection in which Frederic Raphael displays his astute observation of human motives and his versatility at their very best.
New & Used
Out of Stock
What Reviewers Are Saying
Another collection of short stories by one of Britain's widest-ranging writing talents: Raphael has produced everything from teleplays like The Glittering Prizes to biographies of Byron. The bitter mood and abundant bons mots are as predictably Raphaelian as are the character types: smooth-talking Film producers, earnest writers seduced by fast-buck motion-picture projects, pudgy public-school bullies, Cambridge bright lights, literary duelists, and here and there the random woman - somebody's mother or wife. However, in the most successful forays, Raphael ventures outside his familiar turf to describe, for instance, the day Franco drives through a village in southern Spain, and how the mayor prepares to receive him; a young bride who whines for money from her parents in England to pay the rent in Jamaica, then discovers a way to appease the landlord herself; or the dangerously wounded pride of a rejected lover in a brief dialogue piece called "The LaSt Time." As always, Raphael is at his best when putting clever words in his characters' mouths, when delivering quick cameos etched in cyanide (Annie France in "Standards": ". . .no limpet ever had more independence than Annie"), or when turning the knife at the end of a story and pulling it out dripping with malice or envy. Many stories here, though, are marred by verbal showiness and contrived final twists, and one might wish that on occasion Raphael's people showed a bit more self-awareness or genuine, healing humor, as opposed to the caustic kind. As is, the collection is markedly one-note, and thus likely to appeal only to those with the same taste of bile in their throats. (Kirkus Reviews)