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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Thinking Reed (1936) by Rebecca West

Book Review
The Thinking Reed (1936)
 by Rebecca West

  Rebecca West was not just an author of fiction, she was, according to her Wikipedia entry, an important public intellectual who wrote criticism and non-fiction.  She has four books in the 1001 Books project: The Return of the Soldier (1918) and Harriet Hume (1928) are the two I've read.  If you are looking for similarities between the three works it would be strong heroine and a gradually expanding scope.  The Return of the Soldier is mostly an English country house novel,  Harriet Hume is a novel about London, and The Thinking Reed is a novel set in Europe, with a mixed cast of European, English and American expatriate characters.

  However, the book that The Thinking Reed most resembles is Tender is the Night (1934), published two years before The Thinking Reed and an obvious reference point and/or direct inspiration.  Both books dwell on the lives and loves of wealthy, floating Euro-Americans with a variety of real and imagined neuroses and ailments. If Tender is the Night is the "male" version of this narrative, The Thinking Reed is the female counter-part.  Like Tender is the Night it's hard not to read The Thinking Reed as containing a main character who resembles the author.

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