Sybille Bedford

This Was The Hour

This Real Night

By Rebecca West

Macmillan 266pp £9.95 order from our bookshop

Rebecca West’s posthumous novel does what is believed only music can do, say several things at the same time. The title, This Real Night invites foreboding, yet most of the book is daylit, sunny, a tale that blends visual magic with intellectual grandeur. Four young girls and a boy who is grace incarnate (children in the first volume, The Fountain Overflows) grow up, guarded by one of Rebecca West’s most extraordinary characters, their noble, dishevelled, quixotically eccentric mother, and a small circle of very rum friends indeed in a tight-knit, domestic setting in a stable, forward-looking time. The early 1900s to the spring of 1916.

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