BY THE GREEN OF THE SPRING by John Masters

BY THE GREEN OF THE SPRING

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Masters has to wrap up the stories of five interlinked families and about 40 major characters in this finale of a British WW I trilogy (cf. Now, God Be Thanked and Heart of War), so--even more than before--you'll find a constant merry-go-round of international scenes here, jumping from the front to the homefront, to India and Ireland, to America. The major developments? Well, naval commander Tom Rowland comes to terms with his homosexual torment, proves himself by blockading a German port, survives his wounds, and goes off to London to design dresses and pal around with a young, lascivious songster named Noel Coward. Stella Rowland Merritt, degraded by heroin and prostitution, gets pregnant--but husband John persuades her to have the baby and takes her to Arizona, where she kicks the habit and saves John's life. Fletcher Gorse, poet, comes home to marry Betty Rowland. Fletcher's sluttish twin sister Florinda, now a marchioness, chooses between two spiffy suitors. Wounded Scottish painter Archie Campbell returns to the front (putting memories of mistress Fiona Rowland behind him). Wealthy American widow Isabel Kramer grieves for her war-dead son Walter and finally marries impossible-love Christopher Cate (whose wife, a Sinn Fein fanatic, eventually gets shot during a mission). Lieutenant Laurence Cate, a shell-shocked birdwatcher, is executed for desertion. Probyn Gorse, troubled by his mother's ghost, gives up poaching. The war grinds down, the flu epidemic spreads, peace begins . . . and new problems (like the unionization of the Rowlands' motor company) arise. Energetically studded with authentic details and ironic incidents but never compelling or profound--a moderately absorbing mega-saga, chiefly (though not exclusively, since Masters maps things out so sturdily) for those who've already waded through the first two volumes.

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 1981
Publisher: McGraw-Hill