By Julian Green
IN this, his first book written in English, Julian Green gives us an account of his childhood in France and of his experiences during the last war as an ambulance driver and in the French Army; he describes his two years at the University of Virginia, and he tells us of his entry into the French literary world of the 1920’s. The book ends when his novel, The Closed Garden, is accepted by the Book-of-the-Month Club. Mr. Green’s reminiscences have two subjects, himself and France. He is a loyal and confident lover of the spirit and body of the country in which, though an American citizen, he was born and brought up, and in whose spiritual resilience he still so strongly believes.
But the French landscape is only a background to the charming descriptions of Mr. Green’s own family: his father, his mother, and his four sisters. The most attractive of the sisters, Retta, is most vividly seen by the reader, so that her early death comes as a shock. It is not an exciting book; the pictures are painted in pastels rather than in oils; but it leaves the reader with a respect and admiration for the author’s modest honesty. It may also serve as an introduction to Mr. Green’s Personal Record, 1928-1939, where we have a richer and more meditative account of the writer’s problems and ambitions than it was his purpose to give here. T. S.