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The King of a Rainy Country by Brigid Brophy

The King of a Rainy Country (edition 1990)

by Brigid Brophy

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574207,436 (3.93)11
Title:The King of a Rainy Country
Authors:Brigid Brophy
Info:Virago Press Ltd (1990), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 281 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:general fiction, Virago

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The King of Rainy Country by Brigid Brophy



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1956 British novel about a drifting young couple of sexually ambiguous London bohemians, by the genre-defying Brigid Brophy. Last seen as a Virago Modern Classic in 1990, now republished by youthful indie fanzine types Coelacanth Press. This edition also comes with a couple of new introductions, helping to argue why this dusty old novel - and Brophy herself - are worthy of wider attention today.

I'd compare it to the later films of Lindsay Anderson, in that it feels both incredibly British, but also very European, trying to kick back at its Britishness at the same time as commenting upon it. There's doses of dazed Camus-style existentialism, plus a hint of Muriel Spark and Beryl Bainbridge's autobiographical works about bright young women in the post war era. It also echoes the genre of gay coming of age novels, and even a touch of the Beats when the location moves to Italy.

Although it's not as experimental as her later works (eg In Transit), I was particularly impressed by Brophy's device of carefully omitting the narrator's own name throughout the whole book, except at one crucial moment (as far as I can make out). ( )
  Dickon.Edwards | Jun 30, 2013 |
First published in 1956, this is the (partly autobiographical) story of Susan, living in an ambiguous relationship with Neale in London. Money is short; Susan works for a dodgy bookseller. Browsing through the soft porn he deals in, she comes across a picture of a girl she went to school with and once had strong feelings for- Cynthia.
Hearing that Cynthia is now in films, they decide to try to meet up with her at a film show in Venice. This is achieved by getting themselves employed as holiday couriers, taking a group of awful American tourists through Italy...much comedy and lovely descriptions of the country.
Finally they meet up with Cynthia and also the famous opera singer, Helena Buchan.... ( )
  starbox | Oct 25, 2012 |
This book is one of my dearest books because I sent it out on BookCrossing -- and it went all the way to Iran and came home! It's also a swell book, very English, very low-key, very funny. Neglected, I think. ( )
  JandL | Jun 13, 2008 |
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For MICHAEL LEVEY my husband
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I had been scared for a fortnight.
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In this captivating novel the stylin Brigid Brophy portrays the impoverished bohemianism of young Londoners during the post-war years. Susan, workiing for a distinctly dubious bookseller, is in love with the elusive Neale but still obsessed with the memory of Cynthia, a rangy beauty from her schooldays. Their fumbling detective work reveals that Cynthia is due in Venice for a film festival and, in a richly comic odyssey, they journey there as couriers. Cynthia is found...and they also meet the famous singer, Helena Buchan. The ensuing shifts of love and loyalty recall the Mozart operas for which Helena is renowned, and whose music hauntingly threads the latter part of the novel. Her is love, poverty, friendship, betrayal and enlightenment. Even a breath of tragedy serves only to underline the laconic wit and optimism of this vivid and intelligent novel.
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