While England Sleeps: 2a Novel

David Leavitt, Author
David Leavitt, Author Viking Books $22 (320p) ISBN 978-0-670-83349-8
Reviewed on: 10/04/1993
Release date: 10/01/1993
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-14-013361-5
Paperback - 284 pages - 978-0-395-75286-9
Hardcover - 284 pages - 978-0-395-75937-0
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The author of The Lost Language of Cranes offers a departure in both format (the narrative is told in flashback) and setting (the milieu is Spain and Europe) in his latest novel, a haunting reminiscence with faint echoes of E. M. Forster's Maurice . As in that earlier gay-themed story, a young man from Britain's upper class falls in love with a youth beneath his station. Events here, however, are exacerbated by world events: the roiling background of the Spanish Civil War in 1936-37 as recalled in 1978 by Brian Botsford, a novelist and erstwhile lover of Edward Phelan, a ticket-taker in the London underground. The young Brian, wary of his homosexuality at a time when the word was scarcely spoken, shares his digs with 20-year-old Edward but engages in a desultory heterosexual affair as well. Edward discovers the liaison and flees England to join the Loyalists in Spain. Brian's realization of what he has lost leads to the book's most wrenching segment: his arduous attempts to secure the release of his friend, who has been jailed after trying to desert. Leavitt captures his protagonists' youthful ardor--both amatory and political--with an understated style that carries the reader as the story builds in intensity. The air of doomed romance permeates but never overwhelms the book; this is a finely crafted melodrama in the best sense of the word. Major ad/promo; author tour. (Oct.)
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