Much of the action of The Black Laurel takes place in Berlin, 1945. But it is not a novel about Germany. It concerns a group of English people whose duties or interests place them in Berlin during the first summer of the Occupation. They are involved with one another through their position in occupied territory or through their friendships, and by their interest in the fate of one German who has been arrested and condemned.
The action moves swiftly between the ambitions and anxieties of a general; the curious intentions of a Very Important Person; the feverish or helpless twistings of Germans trapped by defeat; the education, friendships, and loves of young men. As in life, the private conflicts meet and distort the human relations.
When Major-General Lowerby's oldest and closest friendship gets in the way of his ambitions, which does he choose? When William Gary, for whom human beings have been instruments, tries to turn to a human loyalty and devotion, can he escape the involuntary callousness of his own mind? Colonel Brett stumbles over his own folly as much as his honesty. Lise and Arnold, pretending to a sophistication neither has, have to find their way back through separate disillusions, to the simplicity of their young love.
The German characters are drawn with a rare knowledge of the conflicts in the German soul: the polished gentleman who will allow any crime for the sake of his family estate; the wound-crippled boys, living on their wits, nerves, and passions; the man, at once scholar and brute, who is abandoning the West for the despised and feared East. Behind the suspense of the narrative, and the sharp images of ruin and fever, rises another image - the image, the reality, of Europe, 1945.
Storm Jameson (1891- 1986) born to a North Yorkshire family of shipbuilders. Jameson’s fiery mother, who bore three girls, encouraged Storm (christened Margaret Storm) to pursue an academic education. After being taught privately and at Scarborough municipal school, she won one of three county scholarships which enabled her to read English literature at Leeds University. She then went on to complete an MA in European drama at King’s College London.
During her career Jameson wrote 45 novels, in addition to numerous pamphlets, essays, and reviews, in an effort to make money. Her personal life suffered, and her first marriage to schoolmaster Charles Douglas Clarke was an unhappy one. After they divorced, in 1925, Jameson went on to marry Guy Chapman, a fellow author, and remained with him despite her apparent rejection of normal domestic life.
Storm Jameson was always politically active, helping to publish a Marxist journal in the British section of the International Union of Revolutionary Writers in 1934 and attending anti-fascist rallies.
©1947 Storm Jameson (P)2013 Audible Ltd
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