HOME FIRES BURNING by Robert Henriques


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Is Henriques going to prove another R.C. Hutchinson, a man who writes with such imagination, such intensity, that one forgives his ambiguities, his obliqueness, for the flashes of brilliance, the challenge of an experimental form; and again, like Hutchinson, is it always going to be the next book that will see fulfilment? Let us hope not. The Voice of the Trumpet was an exciting discovery; there was a visionary quality, an imaginative achievement that defied analysis; and yet an elusive fragmentariness that left a sense of disappointment. And now comes his second war book -- and again one confesses to a sense of disappointment. Again he has clouded issues through evasion. Again he has taken the sharp edge off thought with stylized symbolism. There is less of fantasy -- more of realism -- less of poetry -- but still a sense of elaborate rhetoric. And, while one has had a certain tension of build-up, the end gives one a sense of anti-climax, irrelevance. It is none the less worth reading for the perceptive approach to that feeling the returned veterans everywhere will have of belonging together and not with their old world. The story has as its central figure a nurse, coming back to civilian life in England, and presumably to marriage with David. But a head wound has killed her David and left another man, and she is not sure she can love him. Perhaps it is his brother she loves; perhaps the Canadian sergeant, leader of a group of strays encountered on Christmas Eve, and winding up in her home, where things should come to a head -- and don't. There's a hint of a possible Fascistic slant to the mood of the returned soldier -- this is rejected by the author, but the reader is left wondering... Here -- with the Priestley book (Three Men in New Suits) -- is new light on a new problem.

Pub Date: Aug. 20th, 1945
Publisher: Viking