Wednesday 20 July 2011

This Real Night

Rosamund was sitting up, resting on one hand, and looking round her. 'Forgive me if I go on about blue flowers, she was saying. 'I do so love them. Where was it, that place you went and stayed, where there was an old house high above the sea, and there was a flower bed built up on the edge of the cliff, so that you looked at blue flowers rising to blue sea, and above that there was blue sky? Somewhere in the West Country?' Rebecca West, This Real Night

This Real Night is the second novel in Rebecca West's trilogy. It is also a perfect novel in its own right. In fact, I think it is darker and more powerful than The Fountain Overflows.

This Real Night moves from the end of the Edwardian era to the outbreak of the Great War. Rose and Mary are getting public engagements as concert pianists, establishing a name for themselves as musicians and earning money. Cordelia is as obnoxious as ever and after flirting with the idea of becoming an art historian - which requires another expensive course - she gets married. Rosamund is nursing and Richard Quin enlists as a soldier. The wonderful Mrs Aubrey is now in decline and characters familiar from The Fountain Overflows resurface. Mr Morpurgo provides financial support, Kate is the loyal servant with a gift for clairvoyance, Nancy Philips pays a visit and Aunt Lily continues to dress in a way which causes small boys to point at her in the street.

I won't give the ending away but keep a tissue handy!


Cath said...

I've been meaning to read more about this era lately--Downton Abbey really turned me on to it. This sounds like a beautiful book to start with. Thanks for recommending it!

Anbolyn (Gudrun's Tights) said...

I'm so glad this is as good as the first! I just received The Fountain Overflows from Amazon this week and am looking forward to starting it soon.

Chrissy said...

Isn't this a wonderful title?

And did you fall in love with Richard Quinn as I did? He is so well written that his portrait never falls into sentimentality or over-sweetness.

Elizabeth Bowen admired her writing which is the best recommendation for me.

bekahjane said... Cheers :)

Sunday Taylor said...

Another good book by Rebecca West. I can't wait to get started on the two that you have recommended. I am watching "Downton Abbey" for the second time, and this period of time is really fascinating.

Kat at Thornfield Hall Redux said...

I loved this trilogy. Can't remember what happened where, but was fascinated by the musical talent, the spendthrift father, and the inexplicably tin-eared Cordelia.

danielle said...

This sounds wonderful--a nice little temptation to make me want to start reading the first book!

Darlene said...

Cordelia and Rosamund...those names and that gorgeous cover would tick some boxes for this shallow reader.

There is a gap in my reading because I have yet to read anything by West. This trilogy does sound wonderful though!

Nan said...

What a lovely passage. So beautiful and evocative. I can see just what she is describing. I put aside RW for a while, but will go back another time. I so like her writing.

potterjotter said...

I love your quote from the book about the blue of the flowers, the sea and the sky - beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Right, that's it - as soon as I get home I shall dig out my trilogy and reread...I love these books!

Shelley said...

My longing for more Jane Austen led me to Trollope, but I hadn't thought of West.


Penny said...

Well, my copy of 'The Foutain Overflows' has arrived and is teetering on top of the pile on top of the TBR bookscase! Maybe I should just take it down and make a start on it and ignore the shouts of 'Not fair!!!' from the other books that were there longer... I hadn't picked up that it was the first of a trilogy. Hmm.. Another visit to amazon? How can I resist when you quote a passage in which she says she loves blue flowers, a particular passion of mine?

Anonymous said...

A reminder to let Rebecca speak to me again. Thank you.

Vintage Reading said...

Constance Reader, yes, the Edwardian era was a short but fascinating period of history.

Anbolyn, the first two volumes are excellent. Cousin Rosamund does not quite have the same power.

Chrissy, yes I believe the title comes from a poem. I adore Richard Quin and Mr Morpurgo!

bekahjane, cheers rightbackatcha!

Sunday, yes, as the Edwardian period fades from living memory the accounts of those who lived through it (like Rebecca West) are increasingly valuable.

Mad Housewife, the way West writes about the ability of musicians and artists to foresee the first world war through their art is highly original. Cordelia is a wonderful portrayal of a bad musician.

danielle, I know you would love this trilogy.

Darlene, not shallow at all! West's writing is both literary and feminine and the character Rosamund meaning 'rose of the world' operates on a higher spiritual level than the singular Rose who narrates. Not sure why Cordelia is so named I can't see any obvious links between her and Shakespeare's Cordelia.

Nan, West's narrator Rose takes great pleasure in describing flowers, clothes, perfumes and food which makes for fascinating reading.

potterjotter, there is another quote in Cousin Rosamund about the earth pouring out purple and blue flowrs in August which is true but I'd not observed that before!

Vintage Reading said...

Rachel, I await your review!

Shelley, I believe West was an admirer of Austen. I think she shares something of the same biting humour.

Penny, do not feel guilty about moving West to the top of the pile - she deserves to be there!

ND, I do think West is overdue for a popular revival. Remarkable that a writer as well known as Woolf in her day is now largely forgotten.

Anonymous said...

You have done a great job of reviewing the books in this trilogy - but one quick question: are you going to read the third and final one?

If so, what is it titled?

Thanks a bunch.

Vintage Reading said...

Raving Reader, thanks for stopping by! The last volume is Cousin Rosamund and I've finally got around to posting a review!