In 1934 Christopher Isherwood had worked as a script-writer on a British film (The Little Fried) which was directed by an Austrian Jew, Berthold Viertel, who had already been sufficiently alarmed by Hitler's seizure of power in Germany to have left Austria. Isherwood wrote this short novel in 1945. It is set in the period in the months after the Reichstag Fire. Isherwood appears as himself; the film world of the time is captured well and at length; but the director is here called Friedrich Bergmann, and the film becomes a Ruritanian musical called Prater Violet. Bergmann is a richly "continental" character, temperamental and larger than life; he is voraciously and perceptively interested in an England which is as yet unaware of the danger that Hitler presented to Europe. As a socialist, he is violently disturbed by the news of Dollfuss' brutal crushing in February 1934 of "Red Vienna", a tragedy which made the shallow reactions of Britain unbearable to him. Isherwood felt that his own fashionable left-wing sympathies were feeble in the face of Bergmann's tempestuous rage, which vented itself violently on the uncomprehending people involved in the filming. The way the book ends is unexpected - both with regard to Bergmann, and even more with regard to Isherwood, who, in the last five pages, enters a territory of unhappy introspection for which nothing has prepared us, and which, in my view, makes for an unsatisfactory end of the novel.