Ann Bridge (real name, Mary Anne O’Malley) was a mid-twentieth century novelist who began her writing career by drawing on and exploiting the milieu of the British Foreign Office community in Peking, China, where she lived for two years with her diplomat husband. Her novels combine courtship plots with vividly-realised settings and demure social satire.
She went on to write novels which take a serious investigation of modern historical developments as the background of their protagonists’ emotional lives. Ann Bridge also wrote thrillers centred on a female amateur detective, travel books and family memoirs.
Julia Probyn Series:
The Lighthearted Quest (1956)
The Portuguese Escape (1958)
Julia Involved: Three Julia Probyn Novels (1960)
The Numbered Account (1960)
The Dangerous Islands (1963)
Emergency in the Pyrenees (1965)
The Episode at Toledo (1966)
The Malady in Madeira (1970)
Julia in Ireland (1973)
Peking Picnic (1932)
The Ginger Griffin (1934)
Illyrian Spring (1935)
Enchanter’s Nightshade (1937)
Four-Part Setting (1938)
A Place to Stand (1940)
Frontier Passage (1942)
Singing Waters (1943)
And Then you Came (1948)
The House at Kilmartin (1951)
The Dark Moment (1951)
The Tightening String (1962)
Permission to Resign (1971)
Portrait of My Mother (1955)
The Selective Traveller in Portugal (1958)
Facts and Fictions: Some Literary Recollections (1968)
Moments of Knowing (1970)
A first novel of rare quality beautiful, grave, humorous, exciting, and wise. – Observer
Laura Leroy, wife of a British attaché, leads a divided existence, torn between her beloved home in England and diplomatic society in Peking – an ancient city of exquisite allure.
When Laura joins a group of expats on an expedition to the great monastery at Chieh T’ai Ssu they become intoxicated by the mysterious beauty of Chinese landscape in spring(and by one another). But far from the comforting whirl of cocktails and picnic parties, they soon encounter a shocking clash that threatens the security of their newfound bond.
Set in the vanished era of 1930s Peking, this enthralling novel captures the unfamiliar thrill of a new city, the excitement of secret love, and the everlasting tension between the old and the new.
Few people can evoke the spirit of a place more vividly than Ann Bridge. –Linda Kelly
Almost unmixed delight . . . It is pictorial and exciting and illuminating. –L. P. Hartley
An unusual and beautiful first novel, which leaves one thinking long after one has put it down. –Spectator
Ann Bridge takes the little-known country of Albania for her background recreating the primitive grandeur of the country. The Albanian way of life demonstrates a noble standard of values that is rapidly disappearing under the pressure of modern materialism. Our protagonist is an unhappy and disillusioned young widow who travels to Albania as the result of a chance encounter on the Istanbul express. A fellow passenger tells her that there she will find a life that contains something far more satisfying than the restless gaiety of her cosmopolitan clique. Later, living in the feudal household of an Albanian prince, absorbing an atmosphere of immemorial dignity, and enjoying the friendship of two remarkable women – one a mature and cultured English writer, the other a wise old American doctor – she comes to understand what he had meant. And when, for the second time, she is faced with a tragic outcome to hopes of happiness in love, she is able to find solace among the granite heights and singing waters of Albania.
Publication: BLOOMSBURY READER, 20th June 2013
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“She lay in bed, listening to the nightingales and the river under her window, and asking herself with a sort of exasperated astonishment whether she could really be falling in love with Nicholas.”
Even though she is a renowned painter Lady Kilmichael is diffident and sad. her remote, brilliant husband has no time for her and she feels she only exasperates her delightful, headstrong daughter. So, telling no one where she is going, she embarks on a painting trip to the Dalmatian coast of Yugoslavia — in the Thirties a remote and exotic place. There she takes under her wing Nicholas, a bitterly unhappy young man, forbidden by his family to pursue the painting he loves and which Grace recognises as being of rare quality. Their adventures and searching discussions lead to something much deeper than simple friendship…
This beautiful novel, gloriously evoking the countryside and people of Illyria, has been a favourite since its publication in 1935, both as a sensitive travel book and as an unusual and touching love story
Published: DAUNT BOOKS, 17th May 2012
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A LIGHTHEARTED QUEST
When Julia undertook to find her cousin, Colin Munro, last heard of sailing a yacht off the north coast of Africa, the quest seemed lighthearted enough. But, before she had finished, she was involved with Moorish antique dealers, a Belgian woman archaeologist, Purcell, the enigmatic barkeeper, and American airman, the saurian Mr. St. John, and numerous other characters charming or sinister. Julia’s search takes her a cargo-boart to Casablanca, and thence to Tangier, Fez and Marrakech. Her ‘dumb-blonde’ beauty, camouflaging a lively intelligence, gets her through unexpected difficulties and dangers. Colin is found, and the mysterious reason for his disappearance at last revealed… The first in a series of eight Julia Probyn novels, A Lighthearted Quest displays a blend of humour and adventure which transports us to exotic places and introduces us to entertaining people, but also throws a good deal of light on the explosive political issues that French Morocco encountered in the 50s.
Published: BLOOMSBURY READER, 28th September 2011
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A PLACE TO STAND
Set in Budapest in the spring of 1941, Hope – a spoilt but attractive society girl and daughter of a leading American business man – finds herself playing the lead in a dangerous and most unexpected affair of underground intrigue, through the machinations of her journalist fiancé. During the course of her activities she falls in love with a Polish refugee, and at the moment when Germany invades Hungary, she is already deeply involved – both emotionally and politically.Bridge, herself an eye witness of these events, tells in moving and graphic terms the terrible story of Germany’s ‘protective’ invasion; although it is presented in the form of an imaginative episode, the historical significance and accuracy are all too tragically evident.This admirable novel is at once a charming love story in the shadow of fear and disruption, a subtle and intimate portrayal of human beings in a time of crisis, and a most exciting narrative, set against the enchanting background of Budapest.
Published: BLOOMSBURY READER, 28th October 2011
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THE EPISODE AT TOLEDO
Readers of The Portuguese Escape will remember Hetta Páloczy, the young Hungarian girl who eventually marries Richard Atherley of the British Diplomatic Service. The Episode at Toledo takes us to Spain, not only to the world of Embassies, Military Intelligence, and Cold War intrigue, but into a little-known area of Spanish life. Here Hetta accidentally uncovers a Communist plot to assassinate an American Admiral during his visit to inspect a NATO base; a marked woman once more, she takes refuge in Portugal in the baroque palace of Gralheira. But again, among the tranquil scenes of Portuguese harvest-time and vintage, peril lurks; an attempt is made on her own life, and another on her return to Madrid. After this, at her husband’s insistence, she is sent with her unborn child to the Western Highlands of Scotland, to stay under the auspices of her old friend Julia Probyn, a familiar figure from several previous books. In this one, however, the accent is mainly on Hetta Atherley, who from the ignorant, difficult little refugee has blossomed into an accomplished and delightful woman.
Published: BLOOMSBURY READER, 1st December 2011
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