Grand Days

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

GRAND DAYS is another work by one of Australia’s most-admired writers. Like the characters in Moorhouse’s FORTY-SEVENTEEN (1989), those in GRAND DAYS must deal with their own uncertainties while they are deciding the future of the world. Both novels involve bureaucrats at the international level. Unlike the middle-aged male of FORTY-SEVENTEEN, however, this protagonist is a dewy-eyed, if willful, innocent. At twenty-six, Edith Campbell Berry has left New South Wales for Geneva, Switzerland, where she has a job with the League of Nations. On the train to Geneva, she begins her new, adventurous life by becoming romantically involved with a future colleague, Major Ambrose Westwood.

Throughout the novel, Edith tests her theories about life and is amazed at the results of her experiments. Through Ambrose, she is introduced to various sexual possibilities, but she also discovers the danger of mixing personal life with public office. At work, she finds that official peacekeepers are as given to petty gossip and vicious infighting as ordinary human beings.

In the hotbed of international intrigue and the center of scandalous activity which she discovers Geneva to be, Edith is fortunate enough to meet some sensible people, among them the journalist Robert Dole. He helps Edith to remain true to herself and earns the right to become her life-long companion. GRAND DAYS is a thoroughly researched, clear-sighted book about a fascinating period in history. Like Edith, Moorhouse’s readers stand to learn a good deal.