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The Orchid Trilogy: The Military Orchid, A Mine of Serpents, The Goose Cathedral
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The Orchid Trilogy: The Military Orchid, A Mine of Serpents, The Goose Cathedral (Paperback)

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A disarming, lyrical hybrid of fiction and autobiography, this forgotten masterpiece of post-war English fiction follows a small boy through his First World War childhood and teenage years on the Kentish coast, then into the army and frontline service in the Second World War.

Obsessed by his strange twin passions for orchids and for fireworks, the author-narrator paints a haunting portrait of a childhood and adulthood interleaved with one another in a near-mystical rural idyll. Defined by his unspoken homosexuality, the books capture the unfolding of a melancholy, often painfully sensitive male consciousness.

First published in the late 1940s as three separate but interlinked volumes - "The Military Orchid"; "A Mine of Serpents" and "The Goose Cathedral" - The Orchid Trilogy conjures up a rapturous, fantastical portrait of England at war and peace in the 20th century. Witty, subtle and deceptively simple, this unjustly neglected classic that has yet to be surpassed in its exploration of the magical world of childhood.

One of those too-rare books whose enjoyability makes it seem too short - Elizabeth Bowen

It is a kind of collage of sharply drawn bits of real life, excellently described and artistically arranged - Stephen Spender

Reminiscence and reflection and description are woven together to make a curious and fascinating tapestry - David Cecil

Mr. Brooke's finely shaped prose, his wit, percipience, and liveliness in the description of people, places, and states of mind are a rare delight - The Scotsman

A sad, funny, densely detailed yet continuously readable experience - The Observer

One of the most exciting creative artists of our time and one who will consistently evade all the literary categories - John Pudney

Fiction & PoetryClassic fiction pre 1945 Publisher: Pan Macmillan Publication Date: 05/10/2017 ISBN-13: 9781509855797  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
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Jocelyn Brooke was born in 1908 on the south coast, and took to the educational process with reluctance. He contrived to run away from public school twice within a fortnight, but then settled, to his own mild surprise, at Bedales before going to Worcester College, Oxford, where his career as an undergraduate was unspectacular. He worked in London for a while, then in the family wine-merchants in Folkestone, but this and other ventures proved variously unsatisfactory. In 1939, Brooke enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps, and reenlisted after the war as a Regular: `Soldiering,' he wrote, `had become a habit.' The critical success of The Military Orchid (1948), the first volume of his Orchid trilogy, provided the opportunity to buy himself out, and he immediately settled down to write, publishing some fifteen titles between 1948 and 1955, including the successive volumes of the trilogy, A Mine of Serpents (1949) and The Goose Cathedral (1950). His other published work includes two volumes of poetry, December Spring (1946) and The Elements of Death (1952), the novels The Image of a Drawn Sword (1950) and The Dog at Clambercrown (1955), as well as some technical works on botany. Jocelyn Brooke died in 1966.

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