Anne Redmon (Nightingale) The Times Literary Supplement - Essay

The Times Literary Supplement

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Curiously few books have been written on the theme of friend-ship, doubtless because the varying intensities of love are so much more obviously gratifying to the situation-hunting novelist. Yet the qualities of close friendship, factors of influence, jealousy, sympathy and argument, have in themselves sufficiently subtle possibilities to make one wonder why succeeding generations of novelists should have failed to explore them in any depth….

[Emily Stone] is a work which does, and one whose distinctions are not limited merely to its theme. Anne Redmon's eye for telling background detail is very sharp: her characters are firmly and convincingly lodged in that metropolitan world which uses the term "middle class" as an instrument of pleasurable self-flagellation….

So few contemporary novelists show any interest in creating character that we might almost have thought it buried with Waugh and Huxley. The joy of a first novel like Emily Stone is its revelation that the art of character-making is substantially alive….

But it is more than a heightened sense of character and atmosphere that makes this book so satisfying. Miss Redmon's narrative style has an unaffected gusto, a notable lack of modern stinginess that at once places the work above the level of utter Drabble and third-degree Murdoch that we might otherwise have expected. Is it hoping too much to see in her use of the heroine's name as a title another bow in the direction of that literary past she has so profitably absorbed elsewhere? She clearly enjoys reading as much as she relishes writing; the result is a first novel of perfect assurance.

"Between Friends," in The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1974; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), No. 3770, June 7, 1974, p. 601.