Critical Context

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Martin Boyd’s early novel The Monforts (1928), a social chronicle detailing the lives of an aristocratic family in Victoria from the 1850’s to the end of World War I, won the Australian Literature Society’s gold medal and received critical acclaim. Boyd returned to similar themes and characters in writing Lucinda Brayford after an almost twenty-year hiatus during which he wrote such divergent novels as Scandal of Spring (1934), a rather mawkish story of adolescent love crushed by society, and Nuns in Jeopardy (1940), a study in human nature involving a group of nuns shipwrecked on a deserted island.

Lucinda Brayford was Boyd’s ninth novel; its return to the sure ground of the Anglo-Australian aristocracy and notions of family heritage assured his return to literary prominence. The novel, written during World War Il, while Boyd was posted in Cambridge, achieved noteworthy success in America as well as in England and Australia. It was greeted with favorable reviews and was called by one generous critic “one of the three greatest books of the century.”

Unlike The Monforts, Lucinda Brayford was written with a slightly elegiac, rather than sarcastic, tone. It focuses on a saddened spirit rather than the follies of the well-to-do. It exhibits the fall from grace of an entire class of people by studying the life of a single character in context. Without sacrificing the...

(The entire section is 534 words.)