A SMELL OF BURNING by Margaret Lane


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This totally self-sufficient sequel to A Night at Sea picks up two years after the tragedy with which that book concluded, assembling in Morocco several of those connected with the sinking of a yacht. Molly, the widow of James who had gone down with it, is guilt-driven and unshriven; Anthea, James' mistress, experiences another kind of survival sickness-- she has inured herself to life by marrying a homosexual. Others here in this contingent of expatriates lead an equally epicene existence: Lytton, a non-writing writer, flinching under the ""serenely blind clairvoyant"" eyes of his wife's death mask; her spinster sister; a very camp young man; and an adolescent, Tavy, who comes to stay with Lytton, one of the more awkward specimens of English girlhood. Against a montage of bleached beachscapes and seething street scenes, all well filled in, there is a little hope that some of these people will come alive-- particularly Anthea, pursued by the only active male. But the novel ends with a new tragedy, somewhat summarily in view of the fact that it has introduced a number of people and situations left unresolved. This is perhaps true to life even where it concedes little to the curiosity of the spectator. However the novel on the whole is written with a prepossessing ease and intelligence which guarantees a sympathetic interest.

Pub Date: June 13th, 1966
Publisher: Knopf