I used to live in Great Malvern, where I became interested in Elgar, both the man & his music - for a time I also belonged to the Elgar Society. I think I've read all the major biographies, & I have recordings of most of his works.
Mr.Hamilton-Patterson, the author of this book, takes a little known episode of the composer's life - a six-week voyage in 1923 across the Atlantic & up the River Amazon to the town of Manaos. Manaos is distinguished by the possession of its own opera house.
This actual voyage, which Elgar appears not to have talked about in any special way, is the foundation of Mr.H.-P.'s book.
On it he builds a fictional story of Elgar meeting a woman, Helen Weaver, to whom he proposed marriage when he was in his twenties, also a fact. Although very fond of him, she declined & later emigrated to Australia; they never met again.
In the story she is the widow of a wealthy rubber planter, who came to Manaos many years previously with her husband. She has become a cultural leader of the city. The two of them meet & talk about the present & the past.
Eventually Elgar departs, back to Worcestershire.
Normally, I dislike this sort of writing, as I find it difficult to accept any author's decisions about what a real person might have thought & said & done. HOWEVER, MR.H.-P.'s ideas about Elgar's private thoughts during such a voyage seem to me to be quite extraordinarily perceptive, & fit in with what I might have thought had I thought about the matter at all previously. I started the book somewhat sceptically, but was quickly won over. For me, it was a very great pleasure to read.
The other good thing about it, was that it cost 1p only!! (plus postage of course), & was in very good condition.