Leigh Fermor Novel Reprinted

New York Review Books has republished the only novel of Patrick Leigh Fermor. This was originally published in 1953 and was entitled The Violins of Saint Jacques. It is about a fictional Caribbean island where a volcano erupts and disrupts the melodramatic plot of a family feud and potential duel. It is dedicated to Waugh’s close friend Diana Cooper. This dedication is mentioned in the recent TLS review by Roderick Beaton:

…as a reminder that the Fermor’s world was not so distant from that of Evelyn Waugh–the Waugh of Black Mischief crossed with the Waugh of Helena. There is more than a hint of mischief, and indeed humour, about Paddy’s nostalgia for a lost world and its ethereal afterglow that lives on in the violins of the title.

Waugh did not review this book, although he did review its predecessor A Time to Keep Silence published earlier that year and also reprinted by NYRB. Diana Cooper found it pretentious and and asked for Waugh’s opinion (MWMS, p. 163). He said much the same thing but more politely in his Time and Tide review. The TLS reviewer also detects some pretension in Violins, noting examples of “lush” language–  “(‘orgulous’ and ‘impavid’ appear in the same sentence, both redundant).” Thanks to Peggy Troupin for a copy of the review.

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