Austria, February 1925: It was always to remain a special date for Guy Renton. There his chance meeting with the young and beautiful, but married, Mrs Renee Burton, precipitated the first crisis in his life. Hitherto he had been sure of himself temperamentally and emotionally: the 1914-18 war over, he had concentrated on his love of rugby, eventually being "capped" for England, and he knew that one day, when too old to play, he would enter the family wine business. Until that far off-day, life should have been carefree. But Renee was to change his plans radically.
This story of their love and devotion is set in England between the wars: a time of changing standards when young men were ready to question and were unprepared to accept a way of life just because fathers thought it was their duty. Young women were taking advantage of a newfound freedom and greater opportunities, and the young men respected them none the less for it. Guy's own family became representative of the new way of thinking. Peace and war, security and unease, happiness and tragedy are themes that weave themselves through this sensitive and beautifully characterised novel in which Alec Waugh has brilliantly conveyed the atmosphere of serenity and foreboding that characterised English life during this period.
Alec Waugh, 1898-1981, was a British novelist born in London and educated at Sherborne Public School, Dorset. Waugh’s first novel, The Loom of Youth (1917), is a semi-autobiographical account of public-school life that caused some controversy at the time and led to his expulsion. Waugh was the only boy ever to be expelled from The Old Shirburnian Society. Despite setting this record, Waugh went on to become the successful author of over 50 works, and lived in many exotic places throughout his life which later became the settings for some of his texts. He was also a noted wine connoisseur and campaigned to make the cocktail party a regular feature of 1920s social life.