The Fountain Not Your Standard POW Novel

Holland view with cows in foreground, castle in background

In January 1915, a small group of English naval officers are imprisoned in a Dutch castle. Lewis Alison is greedy for the isolation. He wants to write a book about the contemplative life.

Living on a nearby estate is Julie Narwitz, daughter of a client of Alison’s London publishing firm, whom he remembers as a lovely child. She married a German, who sent her to her mother, who is the second wife of Baron Van Leyden.

The Dutch let the officers out on parole for the duration. The Baron invites Alison to use the castle library, which has a seldom-used connection to Julie’s bedroom.

When Narwitz is invalided out of Germany, their mutual interest in contemplation leads Alison and Narwitz to a deep friendship. When Narwitz finally figures out that Alison and Julie had been having an affair, the knowledge destroys his will to live.

After Narwitz’s death, the two must decide whether their love can survive marriage.

Charles Morgan has all the ingredients for a first-rate novel, but The Fountain reads like a screenplay. Readers have to mentally cast it and stage it. In the end, they come away wondering if they caught the author’s intention or wrote their own script.

The Fountain
Charles Morgan
Alfred A. Knopf, 1932
448 pages
1932 bestseller #2
My grade: B-

Photo credit: “Holland View” uploaded by wick01

© 2012 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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