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C.S. Forester


Book review by Anthony Campbell. The review is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.
Marjorie Grainger comes home after spending the day with a friend to find that her sister Dot, who is baby-sitting Marjorie's two children, has committed suicide by gassing herself in the oven. (That wouldn't work today but this novel was set between the two world wars, when coal gas was in use in Britain.)

At the inquest it emerges that Dot was three months pregnant. The verdict is suicide but Marjorie and her mother, Mrs Clair, realise that Dot was having an affair with Marjorie's husband, Ted, and that he has murdered her. They don't acknowledge this explicitly to each other and neither of them wants to involve the police, which would make the children the object of notoriety and scandal. Marjorie tries to put the knowledge of Ted's crime to the back of her mind, but her mother has a different response.

Everyone regards Mrs Clair, who is 59 and a war widow, as simply a sweet old lady who has suffered a tragic bereavement, but she is really a Lady Macbeth-like figure. From the outset she is set on revenge and knows that she has to rely on herself to achieve this. The rest of the book describes how she forms her plan and carries it out, and on what its consequences are for those whom she involves.

The book has an interesting publishing history. It was written in 1935, when Forester was in the USA. It was due to be published but by then the first Hornblower novel had appeared and a second was on the way; Forester thought it would be unsuitable to publish a thriller between these, so he asked for it to be delayed. The Pursued then became what Forester referred to as his 'lost novel', the whereabouts of any surviving typescript being unknown. In 1999 a typescript of the novel was auctioned in Britain and was bought by the two founders of the C.S. Forester Society. It was published by Penguin in 2011.


%T The Pursued
%A Forester<, C.S.
%I Penguin
%C London
%D 2011
%G ISBN 0-241-10805-5
%P 264pp
%K fiction

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