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Seducers in Ecuador; & The Heir by Vita…

Seducers in Ecuador; & The Heir (1924)

by Vita Sackville-West

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The introduction to these two novelettes tells us that the first was written for Sackville-West's friend and fellow author, Virginia Woolf, and the latter was a tribute to her beloved childhood home, Knole, which she could not inherit simply because of her sex.In Seducers in Ecuador, Arthur Lomax is asked to join people he hardy know on a yacht cruise to Egypt. Well, why not? Arthur has taken to wearing blue, brown, or black lenses that not only protect his eyes from the sun but have changed his view of the world. Suddenly, everything seems fine with him. Marry a woman who was seduced and impregnated by a man who ran off to Ecuador? Why not? Poison a man who claims to have a terminal illness at his request? Why not? Unfortunately, not all turns out well for Arthur, but he accepts the consequences--why not?

The Heir is perhaps a bit more conventional, but I enjoyed it more. The author's love for her family estate and its gardens comes through in Peregrine Chase, a man transformed by the inheritance of a Tudor estate. Perhaps that is what she hoped for the cousin who inherited Knole as well. The descriptions of a fading way of life are lovely but bittersweet. Already, in 1922, the upkeep of a family estate was an expensive matter, and many took advice similar to that offered by Chase's aunt's lawyer: break it into pieces and sell it.

On the whole, these were less than stellar stories, more notable for their social and historical commentary than as literature. ( )
  Cariola | Jul 8, 2012 |
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It was in Egypt that Arthur Lomax contracted the habit which, after a pleasantly varied career, brought him finally to the scaffold.
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"He found himself in such a position that he no longer dared to remove his spectacles at all; he could not face a return to the daylight mood; realism was no longer for him."

First published in 1924 and 1922 respectively, these exquisitely written novellas confirm Vita Sackville-West's gifts as both stylist and observer fo her very particular world.

Seducers in Ecuador, an amusing and ironic tale of the nature of truth and fantasy, is the story of Arthur Lomax, every bit the English gentleman in his white ducks and solar topee, enjoying the pleasures of an Egyptian cruise. But with the addition of a pair of blue spectacles to the outfit, Lomax's entire world changes--to alarming, deadly effect.

Peregrine Chase, the subject of The Heir, is on first acquaintance a less colourful figure, the manager of a Wolverhampton insurance company. But when he inherits a moated Tudor house called Blackboys his resistance to change dissolves in the face of its beauty. Under the spell of house and garden, Peregrine's life--and heart--are transformed.
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