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All the Conspirators Hardcover – 1939

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All the Conspirators

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Amazon.com: 2.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Early Isherwood 2 Aug. 2009
By Charlus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is what is known as a completionist novel: one reads it to have completed reading all of Isherwood's fiction. Isherwood was a very good novelist with two masterpieces on his plate: The Berlin Stories and A Single Man. The rest are never less than competent and always have his wry wit and intelligence(his memoir Christopher and His Kind is fascinating).

This early work (his first novel) reads like many 20's novels with highly theatrical, self-involved characters interacting in scenes that would work better on stage than between the covers of a book. That none of them are particularly sympathetic may be off putting for some. Even Isherwood, in his self-deprecating introduction to this edition, is half-apologetic about the experimental styles used intermittently and unsuccessfully.

The plot involves the son of the house, Phillip, who wishes to escape the office where he works, torn between pleasing his oppressive mother and the dreams of becoming an artist (writer AND painter, mind you). His ally is his sister, Joan, who likewise is torn between two suitors, a cynical med student and a stuffed shirt Cambridge man. The climax is out of a 30's film and totally absurd.

And yet there are the seeds of the novelist Isherwood would become, the precocity of this early writer (he started the novel when he was 21) on display in a few wonderfully written scenes and the satisfaction of seeing where his talent began.
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