Two Thousand Million Man-Power

Gertrude Eileen Trevelyan’s 1937 book wafted its way to me from the Library of Congress by way of ILL. It’s a strange tale, the story of Robert and Katherine heavily interspersed with news from the world, as much ink devoted to happenings in Russia, Italy, the U.S. as to their tiny love story. They meet at a League of Nations debate and began a friendship, realizing they were too poor to marry and Katherine would risk her job (married teachers were getting let go). Lots of sneaking around and waiting for years upon years before finally Katherine takes her vacation without him and he sleeps with another woman which sends him straight back into Katherine’s arms, begging her to marry him. Robert’s laboratory job fills his days, making cold creams and other makeup products, and at night he’s supposed to be working on his treatise about the nature of Time, only that gets shoved aside more and more. Eventually they marry, start spending lavishly, buying things on installment. Of course Robert loses his job, despair, Katherine scours London for a job and sourly supports them for a year before Robert finds something again. In the end he turns to drink and realizes that his whole life is meaningless, wasted. Cheerful stuff!

On a technical note, the flat, cold way that paragraphs pushed the plot forward were bumped against paragraphs chock full of news about the modern world getting faster and wilder and more chaotic did serve its purpose but was a bit mind-numbing.