When Christopher Isherwood's A Single Man first appeared, it shocked many with its frank, sympathetic, and moving portrayal of a gay man in maturity. Isherwood's favorite of his own novels, it now stands as a classic lyric meditation on life as an outsider.
The book revealingly contrasts fact with fiction-the real people Isherwood met in Germany with the portraits of them in his two Berlin novels, who then appeared again, fictionalized to an even greater degree, in I Am a Camera and Cabaret. But one does not need to be familiar with his body of work to appreciate the powerful and compelling story he tells here. Isherwood left Berlin in 1933, after Hitler came to power. For the next four years, he wandered around Europe-through Greece, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, and France-with a German boy named Heinz.
The characters in the book include W.H. Auden, Stephen Sper, and E.M. Forster as well as the literary circles of Somerset Maugham and Virginia Woolf. Chronicling German refugees and the British colony in Portugal, the Group Theatre company (which performed the three Auden-Isherwood plays) and the film studio where he worked and which he used as the setting for Prater Violet, Christopher and His Kind is an engrossing and powerfully rendered portrait of a decade in the life of a major writer.
However, while he is content to cure the town's animals, it isn't long before he is persuaded to use his gift in other ways. When Sharon, whom he adores, begs him to heal her leg, he cannot deny her.
His acquiescence causes them both to be exploited. Sharon runs away to Los Angeles to pursue her dreams of stardom. Jacob follows her, hopeful that they will meet again. And they do–as miserable performers in a seedy stage show. While they plan their escape from the dreary stage life, Jacob is asked to heal a self–absorbed young millionaire. And with his assent, Jacob's plans and all of his dreams begin to crumble.
Written in tight, vivid, and seamlessly crafter prose, this previously unpublished tale by two of the greatest storytellers of the twentieth century shows the dangers a magical gift holds for even the noblest of characters.