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A Treasonable Growth was Ronald Blythe’s was first book and only novel. It is set in Aldeburgh, Suffolk shortly before the Second World War. Ronald Blythe himself has described it as his ‘Forsterian novel’ and even admits to going for walks with E. M. Forster while working on the novel ‘although I never mentioned it.’
Freda Bellingham, the founder of Copdock School, ensnares the unsuspecting Richard Brand in order to save her ramshackle foundation. At twenty-four, Richard is that perilous mixture, gauche, good and uncommitted. He falls straight into the morass of Copdock School.
The time is just before the Second World War and already the less daring British exiles in Italy are planning to return home. Among them is the celebrated novelist, Sir Paul Abott, the nephew of Freda Bellingham. He quits his Sicilian villa for Suffolk and, like his aunt, decides he must have new blood. He needs someone, ‘call it an amanuensis,’ someone ‘more than a typist and less than a friend.’
In full flight from Freda Bellingham and Sir Paul Abbott, Richard joins forces with Mary Crawford, a marriage dreamer. But lovers should be strangers first and uncommitted by too close a knowledge of each other. At this point the aged hunters of these perplexed lovers should have moved in for the kill, but even their egocentricity had to bow before the larger madness which was to shatter their little world.
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