AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN by Elizabeth Darrell


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It's a long, long way (504 pp.) to the end of the trench muck, the heroics, and the home-made miseries--as three brothers of the rural English gentry slog through Darrell's latest kitbag of WW I cares and consummations. The three Sheridans, alone since their father's suicide, have always lived in genteel luxury at Tarrant Hall in Dorset: Roland, dignified and serious, is determined to keep the small family and estate intact; Rex, a hell-for-leather charmer, is mad for flying machines; young Chris is supposedly (unconvincingly) the brother with the ""great mind."" But 1914 brings changes--starting with the realization that Father left a mighty pile of debt. So ever-responsible Roland is about to shuck off his medical-school plans in order to finance Chris' education. . . when poor Chris commits a one-shot pregnancy on Marion Deacon, the doctor's daughter, and finds himself stuck in a hateful, dead-end marriage. How to escape? Well, Chris leaps into the Army, acquiring wounds and amnesia on a doomed Gallipoli mission--while Rex volunteers for the Royal Flying Corps (soon engaging Red Baron types in aerial duels) and Roland heads for the trenches as a medical NCO. On the romance front, Rex loves and marries red-haired performer Laura Pagett. (Roland's put-down: ""A Sheridan marrying a cheap little music-hall performer."") Chris is tended by a kind, vaguely familiar ""nurse,"" as well as a shrink who hopes that Chris can confront his past. Will he recover his sanity? And will Roland (now humanized) and Rex make it home? Fanciers of cannon's-mouth soap opera will press on for the answer. But the sad-and-awful trench action and an autumnal ending will be downers for family/romance fans, with less pulsing pizzazz overall than Darrell's The Gathering Wolves (1981).

Pub Date: Feb. 27th, 1984
Publisher: St. Martin's