Cousin Rosamund by Rebecca West

This ambitious novel takes its artistic characters on a colourful journey through the Great Depression. The heroine is a pianist who mixes with a variety of social classes on both sides of the Atlantic. Although the text is uneven, it is really poetic in places. The author was committed to the maintenance of high artistic standards and wrote:

“no good can be done by there being more bad music in the world.”

At the same time, Rebecca West seems to have taken a dislike to the Bloomsbury Group. Her work contains several disparaging references to gay people. One individual committed suicide because her son was caught in a compromising situation, for example. This unfortunate woman was then blamed for what had happened:

“Every day she grew less like a woman. It was no wonder if her sons were part men and part women.”

Although there may be a gap between the fictional remarks and the real attitudes of the author, a distaste for gay snobs and their antics runs through the book. While snobbery is an unpleasant trait, it is a shame that this novel is haunted by a fear of something improperly understood.







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