My little spread of book titles from the other day will give me the opportunity to spend the next while talking my way through them… first up is Vita Sackville-West’s The Heir, which was first published in 1922 and was reprinted by the wonderful Hesperus. I can’t find it on Amazon, nor is the Hesperus website working at the moment, but do look out for their copy (I found mine in Blackwells) as it’s beautiful even by the standard of Hesperus’ beautiful covers.
The Heir is only 90 pages long – which, as we discussed a while ago, is greatly in its favour as far as I am concerned – and originally came with the subtitle ‘A Love Story’. The love story in question is between the heir (Chase) and the house he inherits. Flicking through, I can’t find the name of the house, so perhaps it doesn’t have one – but Vita’s son believed the novel to be written as an act of catharsis at not being able to inherit Knole, the house she loved and is incorporated into Orlando.
I’ve now read three books by Vita Sackville-West – No Signposts in the Sea, which wasn’t exceptionally good; All Passion Spent which was great, and now The Heir. VSW’s writing, especially when on a topic she clearly cares about, is beautiful – and the gradual realisation on Chase’s part that he loves the house and the villagers… why do my descriptions of books always seem to become schmaltzy? The Heir isn’t at all – it’s honest and witty and touching and good.