Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macaulay - 1956 - Her Last and Greatest Novel

1881 to 1958, England

Rose MacAuley was a very prolific author, with 23 novels and 15 works of nonfiction.  She was a much awarded writer and was inducted into The Order of The British Empire.

Her last and regarded by all as her best novel is The Towers of Trebizond

I have found that one book sometimes happily leads me to an entirely new to me writer. After recently loving Our Spoons Come From Woolworths by Barbara Comyns I read a good article in The Guardian suggesting that as Comyns deals with poorer women in England Rosamund Lehmann and Rose Macaulay treat the upper Middle Class from the same period. I have read all of the fiction of Lehmann but had not previously heard of Rose Macauley.  Some quick research found her highest regarded novel The Towers of Trebizond on sale as a Kindle for $0.99.  I bought it and overall quiet enjoyed the novel.  

The plot, said to be partially autobiographical, revolves around three people from England on a trip by Camel through Turkey.  Our narrator is Laurie, her very eccentric aunt Dot and a high Anglican Clergyman are along also. The characters are very English, the sort of persons found in Saki, socially and otherwise.  Part of the  purpose of the trip is the convincing of Muslim women to convert to high Anglican.  Nobody gets converted. We never quite catch onto why this is a good idea, maybe it is just an excuse to get the clergyman to sponsor the trip.  All sorts of funny and interesting things happen to them, including a scary sequence in which a Turkish counselor office confiscated Laurie’s passport while they determine if she is a spy.  Her aunt and the clergyman disappear for a while in the Soviet Union, where they elope.

Laurie makes a lof of interesting comments on Turkey, The Church, history, her family, and of course on Camels.  We meet in a very fun scene Laurie’s mother and her wealthy long time lover.  Laurie also has a lover, a married man.

This is an oddish book.  I would recommend the best of Barbara Comyns and Rosa Lehmann to all lovers of the English novel of circa 1950.  This book is just a bit mannered and eccentric to endorse unconditionally to strangers.  If you like Saki, give it a shot at $0.99.

I’m glad to have read this book but have no plans now to read more of her work.


Mudpuddle said...

i've got a copy of "Personal Pleasures" by RM... she sounds like my sort of author; so i think i'll read it... tx for the info...

Buried In Print said...

I have a couple of her books but I haven't felt compelled to try one yet. Funny, I didn't realise that you are a Lehmann fan as well...another author we have in common!