Orchid Trilogy (King Penguin)

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9780140055450: Orchid Trilogy (King Penguin)

A disarming, lyrical hybrid of fiction and autobiography, this forgotten masterpiece of post-war English fiction follows a small boy through his First World War childhood and teenage years on the Kentish coast, then into the army and frontline service in the Second World War. Obsessed by his strange twin passions for orchids and for fireworks, the author-narrator paints a haunting portrait of a childhood and adulthood interleaved with one another in a near-mystical rural idyll. Defined by his unspoken homosexuality, the books capture the unfolding of a melancholy, often painfully sensitive male consciousness. First published in the late 1940s as three separate but interlinked volumes - "The Military Orchid"; "A Mine of Serpents" and "The Goose Cathedral" - The Orchid Trilogy conjures up a rapturous, fantastical portrait of England at war and peace in the 20th century. Witty, subtle and deceptively simple, this unjustly neglected classic that has yet to be surpassed in its exploration of the magical world of childhood. One of those too-rare books whose enjoyability makes it seem too short - Elizabeth Bowen It is a kind of collage of sharply drawn bits of real life, excellently described and artistically arranged - Stephen Spender Reminiscence and reflection and description are woven together to make a curious and fascinating tapestry - David Cecil Mr. Brooke's finely shaped prose, his wit, percipience, and liveliness in the description of people, places, and states of mind are a rare delight - The Scotsman A sad, funny, densely detailed yet continuously readable experience - The Observer One of the most exciting creative artists of our time and one who will consistently evade all the literary categories - John Pudney

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About the Author:

Jocelyn Brooke was born in 1908 on the south coast and educated at Bedales and Worcester College, Oxford. He worked in London for a while, then in the family wine-merchants in Folkestone, Kent. In 1939, Brooke enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps, and reenlisted after the war as a Regular. The critical success of The Military Orchid (1948), the first volume of his autobiographical Orchid trilogy, provided the opportunity to buy himself out, and he immediately settled down to write, publishing some fifteen titles between 1948 and 1955, including the successive volumes of the trilogy, A Mine of Serpents (1949) and The Goose Cathedral (1950). His other published work includes two volumes of poetry, the novels The Image of a Drawn Sword (1950) and The Dog at Clambercrown (1955), as well as some technical works on botany. A perceptive reviewer, Brooke wrote critiques of Aldous Huxley, Elizabeth Bowen, Ronald Firbank, and John Betjeman. He also introduced and edited the journals and published works of Denton Welch. Jocelyn Brooke died in 1966.

Review:

He is as subtle as the devil -- John Betjeman One of those too-rare books whose enjoyability makes it seem too short. -- Elizabeth Bowen It is a kind of collage of sharply drawn bits of real life, excellently described and artistically arranged -- Stephen Spender One of the notable writers to have surfaced after the war -- Anthony Powell Reminiscence and reflection and description are woven together to make a curious and fascinating tapestry -- Lord David Cecil A delight to read * Vogue * Mr. Brooke's finely shaped prose, his wit, percipience, and liveliness in the description of people, places, and states of mind are a rare delight. * Scotsman * A work of some stature: informal, charmingly written, quite new in flavour. * Tribune * A sad, funny, densely detailed yet continuously readable experience -- Anthony Thwaite * Observer * You have a sense of a man burrowing into the roots of memory itself, the roots of the human race -- P. J. Kavanagh * Spectator * He had a rare brand of irony, considerable cunning and a marvellous ear for prose . . . Above all, his style runs with easy beauty -- Robin Lane Fox * Financial Times * One of the most exciting creative artists of our time and one who will consistently evade all the literary categories -- John Pudney

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Brooke, Jocelyn
Published by Penguin Putnam~trade (1981)
ISBN 10: 0140055452 ISBN 13: 9780140055450
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