While England Sleeps: A Novel and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy Used
$4.00
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Eligible for Amazon's FREE Super Saver/Prime Shipping, 24/7 Customer Service, and package tracking. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
Add to Cart
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

While England Sleeps Paperback – October 19, 1995


See all 17 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback, October 19, 1995
$1.95 $0.01
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"
$17.99

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Hero Quick Promo
Browse in Books with Buzz and explore more details on selected titles, including the current pick, "The Good Girl" by Mary Kubica.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; Revised edition (October 19, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395752868
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395752869
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,353,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author of The Lost Language of Cranes offers a departure in both format (the narrative is told in flashback) and setting (the milieu is Spain and Europe) in his latest novel, a haunting reminiscence with faint echoes of E. M. Forster's Maurice . As in that earlier gay-themed story, a young man from Britain's upper class falls in love with a youth beneath his station. Events here, however, are exacerbated by world events: the roiling background of the Spanish Civil War in 1936-37 as recalled in 1978 by Brian Botsford, a novelist and erstwhile lover of Edward Phelan, a ticket-taker in the London underground. The young Brian, wary of his homosexuality at a time when the word was scarcely spoken, shares his digs with 20-year-old Edward but engages in a desultory heterosexual affair as well. Edward discovers the liaison and flees England to join the Loyalists in Spain. Brian's realization of what he has lost leads to the book's most wrenching segment: his arduous attempts to secure the release of his friend, who has been jailed after trying to desert. Leavitt captures his protagonists' youthful ardor--both amatory and political--with an understated style that carries the reader as the story builds in intensity. The air of doomed romance permeates but never overwhelms the book; this is a finely crafted melodrama in the best sense of the word. Major ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Best known for The Lost Language of Cranes (1988), recently adapted into a BBC TV movie, Leavitt is one of the most gifted writers of gay fiction. The prose of both Cranes and his new novel is positively lyrical. While England Sleeps is a historical romance in the purest sense. The narrator, Brian Botsford, is a member of England's upper class, an ambitious writer who happens to be homosexual (not gay in the contemporary sense, not least because he initially suspects he will "outgrow" the inclination). He falls in love with Edward Phelan, who is definitely not from the upper class; in fact, he works on the underground and still lives with his family. Edward moves in with Brian, and all's well until social mores and the effects of repression intrude on their happiness. After the relationship deteriorates, Edward, who has Communist leanings, goes off to fight Fascists in the Spanish civil war. Brian's race to rescue him leads to the book's climax. Brian tells this story from his old age in a tone that evokes a feeling akin to a pentimento: his life has been altered by an all too quickly fading memory of love. The novel's action is compelling, its language beautiful. Its story lingers as movingly in the reader's memory as in its narrator's Charles Harmon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
5 star
15
4 star
7
3 star
1
2 star
4
1 star
0
See all 27 customer reviews
This story is sad and moving.
C. B Collins Jr.
A beautiful work of fiction, this novel also educates on period issues and politics, and certainly highlights the precarious nature of vintage gay romances.
Mister M
I could picture the style of dress and the streets of London as the story unfolded.
G. Thornley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
David Leavitt is one of the most easily accessible authors writing about gay life these days. While England Sleeps is especially interesting because of its setting in England, Spain and Germany during the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930's.The love story is touching and the characterizations are deft, although the characters do sound like refugees from Saki when they open their mouths (complete with interfering aunts).Another interesting aspect of this book is its history. Its hard cover publication led to a bitter law suit and the withdrawal of the book from publication in England as part of a settlement. The book was revised in paperback and Leavitt's thoughts on this experience are added as a preface. A reader would have a hard time forgetting this book once read.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 6, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Visiting my local library to hopefully pick up Arkansas (David Leavitt's latest collection), I found this book instead. I'm not gay or male, but I love reading love stories of all types. This one is so pure and heartfelt, it transcends gender, orientation, time, place, etc. Taking place both in present day Hollywood and Europe during the Spanish Civil War, it tells the universal story of, basically, being ashamed of your lover--and realizing too late that nothing matters but how you really feel inside. The book has both funny and tragic moments and even though terrible things happen, in the end I just felt a great reward. Now I'm looking forward even more to reading Arkansas, which has received great reviews. While England Sleeps should not be missed if you like this author's work
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Yuki Shinobu on November 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
I read this novel in a day and a half because I found that I could not put it down. Brian, to me, seems like an average guy who is a bit shallow and only interested in fast sex. Edward, on the other hand, is more sensitive and committed to their relationship.

Brian has a lot of fears because of his homosexuality. He thinks that it's just a phase that he'll pass, and that of course, he will marry and live happily ever after with wife and children. So he screws just about anyone he finds, in bathrooms, restaurants, while at home, Edward is waiting for him.

Brian also sleeps with a woman, whom he plans to marry, once he gets over the lies he has told paractically everyone. But he keeps the charade and comes back really late at home, and sleeps on the couch saying that he doesn't want to disturb Edward. More stuff like this happens, but I will not go into it, cause it's really sad.

Anyway, Edward leaves but later sends a note to Brain for help, and Brain goes to England to rescue him.

You know from the other reviews what happens to Edward and to Brain. It's so depressing that I can hardly write about it.

But even if Brain continued his life with Edward, I think that it still would not have worked out. Brain is teribbly unfaithful by nature, while Edward is not. Their relationship would have ended again, despite Brain's attempts to committ. He just can't do it.

Maybe I expected too much, but I really doubt that Brain truly loved Edward. I know that he cared about him a whole lot, but the reason he wanted to rescue him was more beacause he felt responsible for driving him away. He didn't want someone he cared for to die or be unhappy beacause of him.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Marren VINE VOICE on January 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
Subject of a literary spat (and lawsuit) between Leavitt and the famous English poet Stephen Spender, "While England Sleeps" is a sensitive portrayal of gay life in the late 1930's in the U.K. Brian Botsford, a young upper class Englishman of no particular distinction at the time of the story, finds a gay lover "beneath his station." Edward, a ticket taker on the Tube, is innocently happy with their relationship, but Brian suffers from the scruples of his class and the belief he'll "grow out of it." And of course there's Aunt Constance, who supports Brian and would be delighted if he were to marry a suitable girl.

Brian's reaction to these pressures borders on the despicable, which no doubt is one of the underlying reasons for Stephen Spender's reaction to this thinly disguised story. Brian is shocked to discover that Edward has gone off to fight the Fascists in Spain, and Brian's efforts to rescue him lead inexorably to a tragic end.

Leavitt's rather graphic descriptions of Brian and Edward's sexual relationship may offend some, but I didn't think any of it was gratuitous. And his picture of working class life in London at the time was wonderfully done through his rendering of the characters in Edward's family, especially the mother and sisters Sarah and Lucy. It was an odd time, when public standards of behavior were very rigid while private behavior very much resembled life today in some circles. Leavitt's characters were prudish only in public. These conflicts between the private and public still exist today, but at least the gap is narrowing.

Ironically, the lawsuit sparked a renewal of interest in Stephen Spender, and his autobiography was republished.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Customer Images

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Search

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?