Mr. Crewe’s Career shows politics is not kind

Mr. Crewe is not the hero of the Winston Churchill novel that bears his name, nor is he heroic.

While Crewe has a good brain, a fortune, and aptitude for hard work, he also has one serious handicap: Mr. Humphrey Crewe doesn’t have a lick of sense.


Mr. Crewe’s Career by Winston Churchill
1908 bestseller #1. Project Gutenberg Ebook #3684. My grade: B.

1800's era railroad train

Churchill’s real story is about lawyer Austen Vane, whose father is lobbyist for the Imperial Railroad, and Victoria Flint, daughter of the railroad’s CEO.

Predictably, Austen and Victoria fall in love.

The romance, however, is secondary to the young people’s relationships to their respective fathers.

Austen wins a case against the railroad, and Victoria starts asking her father embarrassing questions.

The railroad lobby, in the person of Hilary Vane, controls the state’s Republican Party and the statehouse.

Austen and Victoria both realize they need to set their own course without cutting off relationships with their fathers.

Meanwhile, Crewe, stymied by the railroad lobby in his efforts to pass reform legislation, declares himself candidate for governor.

Churchill uses Crewe’s career as a way to get an inside picture of the political machine.

It’s not a pretty picture.

Churchill wisely refrains from ending the novel with universal happiness. Too many of the characters have too many regrets for that.

© 2016 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Bonjour Tristesse. Bonjour boredom.

I finished reading Françoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse around 4 p.m. By 9 that evening, I couldn’t recall the plot.

And that was my second reading of this 95-page novel.


 Bonjour Tristesse: A Novel by Françoise Sagan

Initial publication by Éditions Rene Julliard, 1954. This edition:  Bonjour Tristesse  and A Certain Smile, Intro. by Rachel Cusk; Trans by Irene Ash.   Penguin Books Modern Classics, 2007. 95 pages.  1955 bestseller #4.  My grade C+.


 

cover of papaerback that includes Frncoise Sagan's first two published novelsSeventeen-year-old Cécile, her widowed father, and Elsa, his mistress of the moment, are vacationing at a Mediterranean villa.

Cécile “fears boredom and tranquility more than anything.”

Raymond invites Anne Larsen, a friend of his late wife, to visit, to share his bed, and to marry him.

Elsa leaves and takes up with another man.

Cécile is sure Anne would turn her and her father into “two civilized, well-behaved and happy people.” Rather than have that happen, Cécile has sex with the boy next door and then gets him and to pretend to be having an affair with Elsa.

That makes Raymond jealous; he tries to reclaim Elsa.

Anne thinks she’s been ousted.

She drives her car off a cliff.

Everyone lives happily ever after except Anne, who is dead.

Sagan was 18 when she published Bonjour Tristesse. The young woman had talent.

Even in translation the sentences are poetic.  But the characters are flat, the plot adolescent.

You’ve got better things to do in the next 90 minutes than read Bonjour Tristesse.

©2015 Linda Gorton Aragoni