The Tower by Marguerite Steen

This was a very strange and miserable story, although the Riviera setting brightened the second part of the book a little. The main character, Tom, is a struggling artist with a wife who he loves very much and a severely disabled child.  He can’t seem to get ahead no matter what he does and looking after the child is ruining their marriage. Antonia eventually gives him a lecture because he doesn’t want to take a job on the Riviera painting a tower in the mountains for an odd, egotistical French artist called Mesurat.

When circumstances change, Tom finds himself near Nice surrounded by the weird cronies of Mesurat, such as the calculating Comtesse with her frilly dresses and plimsolls.  But he also finds some inspiration in the beauty and serenity of the scenery which gives his painting new life, until a tragedy occurs…

This was written in a rather angry and bitter way a lot of the time, I found. In fact, the story involved a controversial modern issue and it was polemical, I thought.  But Steen’swriting is very good. I especially liked her ability to sum up minor characters in a few words. For example, she writes that the young painters who offered to help Tom, ‘flamed with enthusiasm like a pair of Roman candles.’
The politics of the book annoyed me somewhat. Steen certainly makes her feelings about the overpowering Welfare State and the coming Age of the Machine known! I didn’t think that these issues really had that much to do with the story, and that these were Steen’s personal views!
It was an interesting and unusual novel, however, so I would like to read more by this author.

I received this free ebook from Net Galley in return for an honest review.


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