To hesitate on the edge of life or to plunge in and risk change – this is the dilemma explored in The Living and the Dead.
Patrick White's second novel is set in 1930s London and portrays the complex ebb and flow of relationships within the Standish family.
Mrs Standish, ageing but still beautiful, is drawn into secret liaisons, while her daughter Eden experiments openly and impulsively with left-wing politics and love affairs. Only the son, Elyot, remains an aloof and scholarly observer – until dramatic events shock him into sudden self-knowledge.
'Scene after scene is worked out with exactness and subtlety which no second-string novelist can scent, far less nail to paper.'
The Daily Telegraph
'An unmistably major writer who commands a scope, power and sheer technical skill which put other more ambitious novelists into the shade.'