British author Anthony Quinn's work is just becoming noticed in the United States.On Amazon/US, his books are listed as available in ebook form, but not "currently for sale". I've had to buy them in print form from Amazon/UK. (I sure hope we can start buying British ebooks soon. It'll save me a fortune!)
Quinn's first book I read was "Curtain Call". Set in London in 1936, it was a murder mystery that also had excellent character development. Some of its characters, portrait painter Stephen Wyley, his daughter, Freya, and theater critic James Erskine, are characters in the later novel, "Freya". This novel, set in the post WW2 years, traces the next two decades in the lives of Freya Wyley, her family, her friends, and British society, as it moves from wartime into a troubled peace time. The book begins in 1945 when Freya, in the midst of celebrating VE Day, meets a younger woman, Nancy Holdaway, and ends in 1962, just before the Profumo scandal brings down the Macmillan government.
Freya Wyley is at loose ends in May, 1945. She had put off entrance into a women's college at Oxford, while she did war work. She certainly felt older and more sophisticated than the younger women just entering college. Should she go to Oxford or make her way in London, looking for a job in the newspaper/magazine world? (I imagine this was a problem for many returning vets who had matured after years of wartime service, now having to adjust to a more sheltered world.) Nancy, three years Freya, enters Oxford and the two women become best friends. While there, she is offered the chance to go to Nuremberg with her father to attend the war crimes trials. She wants to interview a renowned older women journalist, who is also covering the trials. To get off for a week of classes, Freya lies to college officials and is found out in her lies. She is "sent down" from Oxford and begins life in London, as a journalist. She renews her friendship with Nancy and they share a London flat.
As the years continue, Freya expands her world, while continuing her friendships with her Oxford friends. They move apart and together, like a kaleidoscope viewing, pairing up and splitting up in an almost graceful dance with time, love, and money. Several characters "betrayed" each other in acts of greed and jealousy and cowardice. Freya and Nancy, though, continue their friendship, though they are apart for a time due to misunderstanding.
While the plot of "Freya" is excellent, Anthony Quinn's real expertise is in his writing his characters. I've rarely seen such consistency by an author in creating both major and minor characters who interact with the times. The book is long(ish), but so, so well worth finding. Please seek it out!
- Paperback: 576 pages
- Publisher: VINTAGE ARROW - MASS MARKET; 1 edition (14 August 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1784703125
- ISBN-13: 978-1784703127
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.9 x 19.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 358 g
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 375,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)