Anthony Powell by Neil McEwan (auth.)

By Neil McEwan (auth.)

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Lushington has met and started an affair with the beautiful Ortrud Mavrin on the boat journey to the Baltic city in wh ich most ofthe novel takes place. Although its polite sociallife, amid diplomatic, military, academic and shabbily aristocratic cireles, is elose and given to gossip, her husband is easily deceived and kept out of the way. When Lushington and a crony visit the Mavrins's ftat, the Professor appears in his dressing-gown and is sent away to make hirnself presentable; by the time he reappears, in full evening-dress, his guests are departing.

J udkins and J udkins appoint Hudson to write Waring's biography. Roberta Payne, a girl who likes rich men, has recendy been staying at Toulon where she found out, she reports, that Waring is living there and calling hirnself Robinson. Eustace Bromwich, another 36 Anthony Powell friend from Toulon, also remembers Robinson. Hudson's preliminary research shows, disconcertingly, that Waring's adventures in Ceylon have been lifted from an obscure old book of travels. Hudson joins the narrator on holiday with Eustace in Toulon where further literary digging persuades them that all Waring's books are clever plagiarisms.

He sails away with Mrs Mason, on a dangerously stormy night, to avoid further awkwardness. There is an aftermath in London. Eustace announces at the end that Alec and his wife were drowned in the storm. There are further coincidences. The narrator used to know the Pimleys - Alec apart - and, with Hudson, comes to know them again. He learns that Alec's grandfather published, anonymously, the travels in Ceylon that Alec cannibalised for Waring's first book. In a subplot Beryl's difficult sister Winefred pursues an Indian, Mr LaI, who appears as a medium at the end of the book and 'sees' by clairvoyance aspects of the Waring story.

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