Betty Miller in the 1930s © Estate of Bernard Meninsky
PREFACE BY JANE MILLER
Betty Miller wrote this, her fourth novel, in 1935. But her publisher, Victor Gollancz, 'turned the book down flat,' wrote Neal Ascherson in The New York Review of Books. 'It seems most likely that he saw it as terrifyingly provocative, not only an attack on the solid English assimilation of his own family but a tactless outburst against the English at precisely the moment, two years after Hitler's assumption of power, when their tolerance and hospitality were most needed.'
In the novel Alec Berman escapes from his restrictive Jewish family in Brighton, and although he has a successful career as a film-maker (perhaps modelled on that of Alexander Korda) and marries the very English Catherine, he always feels a 'Dago: Jew: Outsider.' 'Yet,' continued Neal Ascherson, 'the rejection is not really the refusal of a snobbish Gentile world fully to accept him. The rejecting force comes from within himself.' 'A thought-provoking insight into anti-semitism between the wars,' wrote the Guardian, 'not the violent prejudice of Mosley's fascists, but the discreet discrimination of the bourgeoisie.'
The fabric is 'Black Goose' (1938) by EQ (Elsie) Nicholson, a cotton hand printed with lino blocks; the sky-blue background is strikingly beautiful and the flying geese have overtones of the 'black sheep' of the family.