27 October

27 October 1920

Villa Isola Bella Menton, France

Dear Mr Walpole,
I must answer your letter immediately. It has dropped into the most heavenly fair morning. I wish instead of writing, you were here on the terrace & you'd let me talk of your book which I FAR from detested. What an impression to convey! My trouble is I never have enough space to get going - to say what I mean to say - fully. That's no excuse, really. But to be called very unfair - that hurts, awfully, and I feel that by saying so you mean Im not as honest as I might be - Im prejudiced. Well, I think we're all of us more or less prejudiced, but cross my heart I don't take reviewing lightly & if I appear to its the fault of my unfortunate manner.
Now I shall be dead frank. And please don't answer. As one writer to another (tho' Im only a little beginner, and fully realise it):
"The Captives" impressed me as more like a first novel than any genuine first novel Ive come across. Of course there were signs enough that it wasn't one - but the movement of it was the movement of one trying his wings - finding out how they would bear him, how far he could afford to trust them. I felt you were continually risking yourself, that you had, for the first time, really committed yourself in a book. I wonder if this will seem to you extravagance & impertinence. I honoured you for it . . . You seemed to me determined to shirk nothing. You know that strange sense of insecurity at the last - the feeling: "I know all this. I know more. I know down to the minutest detail and perhaps more still but shall I - dare I trust myself to tell all?"  [Letter to Hugh Walpole  in Collected Letters]