Unconditional Surrender

Emyr Humphreys, Author
Emyr Humphreys, Author Seren Books $24.95 (180p) ISBN 978-1-85411-164-7
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Paperback - 180 pages - 978-1-85411-213-2
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Trollope's The Warden is recast for the twilight of WWII, as experienced in a small Welsh town by its uneasy rector, Edwin Pritchard, and its most notable German refugee, Cecilia, the former Countess von Leiten. During the months between Germany's surrender and the atomic bombing of Japan, Pritchard gets caught up in controversy because he supports Cecilia's continued settlement at the Residential Home for Decayed Gentlewomen instead of her repatriation to Germany. In this suspicious atmosphere, as people begin to blink away their wartime certainties, Pritchard and Cecilia must also separately contend with Colonel Bacon, a gregarious blustering Home Guard Tory, Klaus Rist, an insinuating young POW, and Arthur Llwelyn, the local Welsh nationalist candidate--all of whom are queuing up for slices of the postwar pie. The personal becomes political as Pritchard casts his lot (and petrol ration) with Llwelyn's campaign, while his daughter, Meg, becomes fascinated with Rist and his normally steadfast wife, Olwen, grows too friendly with Colonel Bacon. Humphreys's old-fashioned novel lacks a certain Victorian richness, but, narrated in Pritchard's and Cecilia's anxious streams of consciousness, it arrays a wide enough social cast to capture the crowded uncertainty of a historical cusp. (Nov.)
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