Voices in the Garden

Voices in the Garden

3.59 (37 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Paperback

Currently unavailable

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks

Description

Set in one of the last great villas of the 1920s on Cape Ferrat, in cosmopolitan London, and in the home of a landed German family within the shadow of the wall. The novel is a human comedy, as well as a compassionate story of mature and immature love.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 111.76 x 177.8 x 25.4mm | 1,065.94g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • 0140172432
  • 9780140172430

Review Text

In A Gentle Occupation (1980), Bogarde's military-life setting - British-occupied postwar Indonesia - provided a sturdy, historically resonant counterpoint to some exquisitely sentimental relationships. Here, however, the setting is an oasis of fading elegance in the south of France - which makes for a rather more precious, pastel-on-pastel entertainment. Bogarde's hero is Marcus Pollock, the young, quite gorgeous, cast-off son of two failed British actors; he now works for a London company which rents props for photographers and cinema; and on the side he's a nude model for a discreet studio serving "clients of particular interests." But then, in France, Marcus just happens to rescue Lady Peverill - known as "Cuckoo" and still "smashing" at 68 - from an attempted suicide-by-drowning (because of bad news from a London doctor). And, after swearing secrecy, Marcus is welcomed to the Peverills' Villa Tritton by repentant Cuckoo and her 70-year-old husband Archie - a fine, trim, scholarly historian who identifies with Napoleon and is thrilled by Marcus' resemblance to Napoleon's only son, "L'Aiglon." Also welcomed to the villa is Marcus' girl, Leni Minx, a wan German waif who has her secret: she's really the Countess Luisa von Lansfeld, but she's in the grip of a non-guilt-ridden, non-German fantasy life, sharing Marcus' flat, sardines, and saltines. And all these fantasizers are soon joined by a yacht-load of celluloid illusionists: fascistic, smooth-flanked director Umberto Grottorosso, who's doing a L'Aiglon flick; his inadequate L'Aiglon, a mild hunk named Wolf; busty star Sylva; assorted supporting players; and Grottorosso's American aunt Minerva, a straight-shooting oracle who announces that Wolf "comes off the screen like melted tar." So, as a picnic ensues (the food is a veritable poem), Grottorosso stalks a new star in Marcus, via a "rape" by Sylva; and back at sea the director, now smitten with the possibilities of a lustier L'Aiglon, carves up Wolf. But Marcus will take an appropriate revenge, Cuckoo will have a few last fabulous flights of excitement. . . and little Leni will Tell All. Bogarde's narration this time leans toward the too-too clever ("the table cloths flew about the garden like demented nuns"), and the often-bitchy dialogue is sometimes over-sequinned: "You are mad, you know, completely mad"/"Oh, I know and it is so marvelous." But for those not fussed by the super-mannered, near-camp sensibility, it's a funny, bright, and lusciously decadent diversion. (Kirkus Reviews)show more
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X