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Books: Between Buses

2 minute read

DELAY IN THE SUN—Anthony Thorne —Donbleday, Doran ($2.50).

“If you interrupt a man in the middle of his life you surprise him, so to speak, in the middle of a sentence. . . . Put an unexpected semicolon there. The rest of the sentence may be entirely different.” This thesis, more useful to drama than true to life, is the theme of Author Thome’s pleasingly plausible novel. Wisely he sets his English protagonists in Spain, where the sun is hotter, the moonlight more insidious, where anything unusual may happen. . . . A microcosmic melodrama, of the same general type as Grand Hotel, Delay in the Sun is brightly and neatly written, almost persuades the reader that Author Thome’s fancy has merely foreshortened the facts.

Racketing across country by motorbus, nine English compatriots were patriotically keeping themselves to themselves until a sudden drivers’ strike marooned them in a little town. For two days they waited, enduring their enforced semicolon, gradually revealing to each other the meaning of their unfinished sentences. Julian was a bachelor, suave, middleaged; John, a talented young artist, was his son, though unaware of the fact. They amused themselves by observing their fellow travellers: a Jewish salesman, a secretarial spinster, an amiable widow, two girl chums, a pair of honeymooners. One by one their travelling disguises were discarded. The spinster, frantically trying to catch a boat at Corunna, because she had never yet failed her egomaniac boss, attempted to walk it, was brought back with sunstroke and a change of heart. The salesman and the widow discovered they were affinities, the girl chums that they were Lesbians, the lovers that they were mismated. Seduced by a pretty Spanish girl, John decided to stay and listen to the nightingales. The strike over, the arresting semicolon lifted, the travellers went on, to finish their sentences in a new direction. Sadder and supposedly wiser, Julian and the jilted bride bore each other company to Corunna, brave but bereft. The Author looks like a British Richard Halliburton. An Oxonian, he once distinguished himself at rowing by upsetting the entire eight because he had stopped to look at a kingfisher. Now 26 and an advertising copywriter, he travels when he can, goes alone, stops at cheap hotels, loves Spain. Delay in the Sun, Author Thome’s second novel, is the January choice of the Literary Guild.

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