THE RIVER LINE by Charles Morgan
Kirkus Star


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I liked this better than anything Morgan has done in recent years, better, perhaps, than Sparkenbroke; though it is, in many ways, a less important book it is more readable. Morgan shows again his major weakness, a tendency to betray the pedant in himself, the philosopher, sometimes the casuist, as once again he poses a moral problem, allowing it to dominate the mood, the thought, of virtually every character, so that each one, in turn, is Morgan himself, speaking. Penetrating this veil however is a tense drama of conflict, told at two levels of time. Three friends meet in England after the war, their bond the tenuous, almost unreal one, of a few weeks spent in a period of waiting in the French underground. There is Sturgess, the American school teacher, a flier shot down on French soil; there is Julian, the controlled Englishman, still bound by the habit of silence; he was in France as a secret agent; there is Marie, the French girl, now married to Julian, important link in the Underground, in whose home they were hidden. And there is the memory of Heron, dead, on evidence from Sturgess, on orders from Marie, by Julian's action. They had all loved him; they had acted under compulsion of what seemed resolved doubt of his identity, his intent. The memory of Heron stands between them. And then into the picture comes Valerie; it is love at first sight between Valerie and Sturgess; but at almost the moment of speaking, Sturgess finds that Heron was Valerie's brother. On the verge of fulfillment everything seems lost. Just how this is resolved is integral to the philosophical content of the book. There's a compelling quality, though the pace of story will prove to many a deterrent. This was serialized in Woman's Home Companion under the title Edge of Happiness.

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 1949
Publisher: Macmillan