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.
(This Real Night, most of it written in the 1950s, is the second volume of an intended trilogy; but is complete in itself. So it is not essential to have read or to re-read The Fountain, though this would enrich understanding. The working title of the trilogy was A Saga