While England Sleeps by David Leavitt is set in the 30s: while in Germany Hitler is politically ascending, in England young people discuss about communism and the spanish civil war.
In this context – and in a reunion of the communist party – Brian Botsford, upper-class and wannabe writer, and Edward Phelan, employed in the London Underground.
They begin a relationships that have its apex in they living together in Brian’s small apartment. Edward is conscious of his love for Brian, but Brian has instead the idea that him being homosexual is only a phase of his life, and for this reason begins a relation with a woman known through his aunt Costance.
When Edward discovers Brian’s other relationship he is shocked, and to forget his lover he will leave to the Spanish front, but the war will be much more dramatic than his idea about it.
The novel, through the love story between Edward and Brian, shows the historical context in 1930 England: great ideals and great differences between social classes (and for this reason Brian is often ashamed by the friendship with Edward) and the social opposition to homosexuality, so deeply rooted in the mentality that Brian himself hopes it’s only a temporary condition.
In addition to the historical context, the novel is a good interpretation of human dissatisfaction: Edward is aware of his emotions, while Brian is always unhappy and unsatisfied; he discovers how much Edward was important in his life only when he leaves for Spain, and only in that moment Brian chooses to go help him.
* While England Sleeps by David Leavitt ★★★★☆
*I read this book in english