Brian Westby

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By: Forrest Reid

A chance meeting in 1931 between fifty-six-year-old Forrest Reid and nineteen-year-old Stephen Gilbert was a pivotal event in the lives of both men. For Reid, it was love at first sight, and his young muse was the inspiration for a string of late-career literary triumphs that culminated in the James Tait Black Prize for Young Tom as the best novel of 1944. For Gilbert, his friendship with Reid helped launch his own writing career, which saw him publish five excellent, though now neglected, novels. In Brian Westby (1934), arguably his masterpiece, Reid immortalized their meeting, recasting their relationship as father and son.

In Brian Westby, Martin Linton, an ageing novelist wondering whether he has anything left to live for, travels to the Irish seaside for his health. There, he meets Brian, the teenage son he never knew he had, and finds his passion for life reawakened as he tries to win the boy’s confidence and affection. But their burgeoning relationship is threatened by Linton’s ex-wife Stella, who believes him to be an immoral influence, and in an unforgettable climax Brian will be forced to choose between his love for his newfound father and his loyalty to the only parent he has ever known. This first-ever republication of Reid’s scarce novel includes an introduction by Andrew Doyle, an appendix containing unpublished texts by Reid and Gilbert, and a reproduction of the original jacket art.