Love in the Sun

by Leo Walmsley

THE BOOK SOCIETY CHOICE FOR AUGUST
4/8/1939

On the jacket of this book published by Collins at 8/6d, which has an attractive design by the wife of the author, Daphne du Maurier writes: "'Love in the Sun' will make other writers feel ashamed.  And, curiously enough, old-fashioned too.  It is a revelation in the art of writing and may be one of the pioneers in a new renaissance which shall and must take place in our time if the novel is to survive at all.  While we struggle to produce our complicated plots, all sex and psychology, fondly imagining we are drawing modern life while really we are as démodé as jazz and mah jong, Leo Walmsley gives the reader a true story, classic in its simplicity, of a man and a girl who possessed nothing in life but love for each other and faith in the future, and because of these things, were courageous and happy.

"They converted an old army hut for their home, they made a garden, they grew vegetables, they used driftwood for their fire in winter, they caught mackerel for their food in summer, the sea and the soil sustained them during the long months so the man could write his book and the girl could have her baby; and when both were accomplished life continued as before, the garden was trenched, the fishing lines were baited, fame and fortune had passed them by, but hope, and courage, and love, were with them still.  When we come to the end of the story, we know that the man will write other books, the girl will have other babies, flowers will continue to grow in their garden, they will go on living and loving, and creating things because, like the plants in the soil, they are made of the very stuff of life itself.

"Yes, Leo Walmsley has filled me with shame.  Our cheap artificial plots, distorting human nature to make it suit the jaded palate, must go on the scrap-heap.  We are not worthy to be called writers if we cannot do what he has done in 'Love in the Sun', and show the novel-reading public that the simple things of life are the only things that matter, that a man's work, and his wife, and his baby, and his plot of earth, are more important than the drama and passion of the whole world, and that the world itself is not and never has been the merciless vortex so many of us make it out to be, but is, and always will be, as Leo Walmsley portrays it in 'Love in the Sun', a place of supreme adventure."

     ★      ★      ★      ★      ★


Daphne du Maurier does not exaggerate: the book is a remarkable literary effort, a most unusual story based on the simplest of incidents.  Only Leo Walmsley's smattering of blasphemy and swearing, to which many readers will object, and which in nearly every case could have been left out – that alone prevents one deciding that here is a book which will live as a classic with an interest, a simplicity and a charm equal to Thomas Hardy.  One ventures to suggest to the author that, when the time to reprint comes, he should take out all the words that can give offence to anyone, and those which are absolutely gratuitous and unnecessary, but leaving those which can offend nobody, such as occur in many of the stories which some of his characters narrate.  Maybe some of these are the self-same words as the ones suggested to be crossed out, but they are essential in their setting.  This is not a suggestion that the book must be placed under a cushion every time it is put down.  Nothing of the kind.  They are just individual words, not passages.  Leo Walmsley goes over many awkward fences with a grace that would seem impossible; in fact, in many of them one scarcely sees the fences at all.

It is a story which most modern writers could have made nothing but nauseating with 'sex'.  Imagine for yourselves a couple, in the hands of many modern novelists, going to live together in a lonely cove in Cornwall: what would you expect?

The couple restore and make their own furniture for a broken down army hut: they turn a wilderness into an Eden and grow vegetables, fruit and flowers; they catch fish; they survive their poverty periods in most original ways; they bring to life a cat which is a pet to the reader nearly all the way through the book; they meet people who do not know them, and, though these all guess the real situation, they accept it as the true love romance it really is.

The whole novel is a love story written as you have never read one before.

Line

And also…

From TIME Magazine

Recent & Readable

LOVE IN THE SUN – Leo Walmsley – Doubleday, Doran ($2.50). A girl named Dain, and "I," a young man, unmarried, without money, in love, take a shack and shift for themselves on the Cornish coast. The young man writes books, from which he gets too little money; the young woman works very hard and is very "gallant." The arduous simplicities of their living and their small adventures are described in great detail; they have a baby; they are very happy indeed. Warm readers will find the tale disarming; cool readers may wonder whether love so nearly cloudless is interesting enough to write or read about. It may, however, forerun a wartime wave of back-to-the-bed "escape" novels.

Reference
Time Magazine (2008), Recent & readable. [online]. Available at:
Time Magazine [Accessed: 14 April 2008]


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