The Cardboard Crown
"With this novel Martin Boyd begins his story of the upper middle class Langton family, whose members divide their lives between Australia and England, yet never seem to be quite at home in either society.
"In The Cardboard Crown, the narrator Guy Langton reconstructs the life of his grandmother Alice, from her secret diaries. With the help of his own memories and those of his uncle Arthur his story begins to light the family's complex fate.
"This is a work of masterly technique, revealing subtle depths of character and motive below the fresh surface of a beautifully lucid style.
"Martin Boyd's four novels of the Langton family have been called by critics 'an Australian Forsyte Saga.' Set against the background of Australia and England in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they present a brilliant reconstruction of two contrasting societies."
"Mr Boyd writes exceedingly well. He is often witty, frequently almost poetically beautiful" - Nancy Spain Daily Express
"It is necessary to claim for Martin Boyd a very high place among Australian writer...He writes with a sensitive apprehension of truth which is such to rejoice the heart of every reader, whether Australian or not" - Brian Elliot, Meanjin
'When we have passed a certain age, the soul of the child that we were, and the souls of the dead from who we spring, come and bestow upon us in handfuls their treasures and their calamities.' The realization that I had reached this age came upon me one night in 1949. It was after midnight, and I was driving through pouring rain from a dinner party in Toorak up to Westhill, my home in the country, thirty miles from Melbourne. My thoughts were accompanied by the dreary whining of the wind-screen wiper, and occasionally and dangerously interrupted by the blinding lights of a timber lorry, driven presumably by a drunkard or a criminal. Not that my thoughts were very coherent. It had been a rather dull party, with the champagne more stimulating than the conversation, so that my mind was buzzing like a motor engine that is pulling nothing, except for one incident, when a fashionable doctor made an outrageous reference to Dominic, my poor dead, mad brother, who had been his patient. I shall not repeat it, at any rate not yet, as although an incident may be true, it is not necessarily credible, and I do not want to give at the outset an impression that I am not telling the truth. Nor shall I give my retort, which was brief impersonal and very restrained, but which shocked the millionaires and their wives as much as if I had used an obscene word, because of its reference to a standard of values of which they did not seem to have heard.
From the Lansdowne paperback edition, 1977.
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Last modified: October 24, 2003.