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The book of Talbot by Violet Clifton

Violet Clifton’s literary career is little known, but her Book of Talbot won the James Tait Black prize in 1933. A little search shows a contemporary critique in the Spectator (25 May 1933, page 36), which may give you pause if you were thinking of picking it up to read.

“This is an amazing book, for Talbot Clifton was an amazing man. He should have been an Elizabethan-solider-pirate-explorer, but, being born to a large estate in the late nineteenth century, he had to take his adventure where he could find it. He managed to find it, too.

The goldfields of Alaska were one of his early hunting-grounds: then came the Barren Lands in the far North, where after months of voluntary hardship he shot a musk-ox. Siberia was another jaunt, Tibet another, Central Africa another, and the War an interlude.

"Placing myself in voluntary exile," he wrote, "gives me that peace which civilization and its currency do not hold for me." (…) There are adventures enough, and excitements enough, in this book, to stir even the most hardened reader: and the style is enough to put almost any reader off it. (…) When she comes to the adventures after his marriage, in many of which she shared, she is simpler and easier to follow, but The Book of Talbot (Faber and. Faber, 15s.) is nowhere a good argument for the lyric approach to the adventure story. The story itself, however, is undeniably worth perseverance.”

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