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A shy, introverted young poet. A weekend in a magnificent English country house. A beautiful young lady whom the poet is secretly in love with. An assorted group of guests with varied interests, motives, ambitions and aspirations, and the complex web of history and events that connect all of them. Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley was his first book, published in 1921, when he was just 27 years old. It is typical of many books written during this period by writers like Thomas Love Peacock and Somerset Maugham, centered round a country mansion and the quaint, British tradition of being invited to spend a weekend with a group of people whom one may or may not know. Crome Yellow is a novel of manners rather than plot and depends more on its style and characterization for its appeal. It is a precursor to Huxley's brilliant novel Brave New World and indeed some of the characters in this book appear in his other books too, albeit in different avatars. The young poet, Denis Stone, is invited by Henry Wimbush, the owner of Crome, the lovely country house in rural England. He accepts the invitation mainly because he knows that Anne Wimbush, Henry's niece, will also be there. She is four years older than Denis and sees him as a bit of a wimp, but knows that he is in love with her. She has almost made up her mind to accept him if she proposes. The other guests include an artist, Gombauld, a hearing-impaired young lady who buries herself in books to avoid interacting with people, a pompous journalist, a cynic, a philanderer and a vicar and his wife. Henry Wimbush is engaged in writing a history of his home, while his wife is addicted to gambling. This bunch of characters thrown together and the events that follow their intermingling with each other, form the plot of the book. Aldous Huxley's sparkling and witty style is evident in his debut novel. Crome is supposedly a portrayal of Garsington Manor, the home of Lady Ottoline Morrell, a famous beauty and renowned hostess to such greats as TS Eliot, Yeats, Bertrand Russell and others. Huxley's satirical depiction of the typical country house weekend is indeed amusing and thought-provoking. Modern-day readers may find the customs and traditions of pre-War England quaint. Many of the people in the book are “stock” characters found in many English novels of the time making Crome Yellow a delightful parody of the life and times of the 1920s. An interesting read!
Great reader, I am surprised that he was able to stay awake through the whole book! What an extremely tedious and...what's the word? I listened to it so long I felt I had to finish...or did I? I'm not finished yet, and I think I will move on to something else at chapter 17. For the reader I'd give it 5 stars; for the book, maybe 2.