Vera Brittain Mary Ross - Essay

Mary Ross

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Vera Brittain's "Testament of Youth" was the story of her own experiences through World War I and the post-war years till 1925. ["Born 1925"] ostensibly centers in the next generation, in Adrian Cadbury, born in 1925, and his younger sister Josephine. Actually, however, the clearer characters in the book are Adrian's parents who, having been hard hit by one world war in youth, had to undergo the second in company with their children twenty-odd years later….

The chief interest of this novel is as a report on the way some people in London lived through and felt in the inter-war and war years rather than as a story of individuals. At the same time, the circumstances of Adrian's life are too special to let him stand convincingly as a prototype of the youngsters who had to face war before they were old enough to vote. "Born 1925" therefore falls between two stools: it does not carry the reader along as a story pure and simple, nor does it establish the thesis of youth led to rebellion against the current world toward which the author seems to be groping.

Mary Ross, "Mars in the Ascendant," in New York Herald Tribune Weekly Book Review (© I.H.T. Corporation; reprinted by permission), January 16, 1949, p. 13.