• faber
  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Faber

© William Sansom Estate 2017

London. All rights reserved.

The Face of Innocence

1951

Hogarth Press

Cover Design by Alex Jardine

There are people who, not content with their circumstances or with their equipment of facing life, have recourse to fantazy. In insensitive nature this takes the form of shooting a line; a man wears decorations to which he is not entitled, a woman says that she can't think how it is, but children and animals always seek her out, and her many friends seem to find her indispensable. 

For all such people there is only one cure. Either by way of love and patience, or sharply and clinically, they must in each separate instance be confronted with the fact and have the falsehood demolished. The computation can be dangerous, and will in any case rouse violent resentment: but it is their only hope. 

Eve, the heroine of The Face of Innocence, could still tell fact from fantasy, but was far gone. In the first chapters she is engaged to Harry, a stupid but by no means imperceptive man whose unshaking adoration slowly works towards her cure. 

Mr Sansom's writing is sinewy, flexible, exact and full of colour. Here is an adult novel, in which the characters are given their heads but never get out of control. It is alive, honest and splendidly readable. 

Buy new from Faber & Faber

Buy secondhand

Criticism

A marvellous novel of a modern marriage…"It is all too seldom these days that one comes across a man who can tell a rattling good story and write like the devil.

NY Herald Tribune


The portrait of a memorable minx.

The Spectator


Superbly entertaining.

NY Times


An undebatably immense talent.

The Atlantic


At his best there is no living author who can be more interesting or who can more thoroughly absorb the reader into his own vision.

Sir Osbert Sitwell


A work of great readability and human interest, which I strongly recommend.

C. P. Snow


As credible and pleasurable a mixture of tragedy and comedy as we've seen in a long time.

Harper's


Sansom at his best in style, descriptive power, select dialogue, insight into character and novelty of subject matter...a rare bit of entertainment.

LA Times


An extraordinarily fine study in character...a portrait every reader can recognize...All of this Mr Sansom does with the deceptive ease of an accomplished virtuoso, with the lovely clarity and vividness of style that has made him the fine writer he is.

 

San Francisco Chronicle


It is told with wonderful skill; the scenes are exactly presented, with an added dazzle that makes them even brigher than they would be in reality...he is a remarkable writer...the characters are brilliantly portrayed.

London Observer


San Francisco Chronicle (JH Jackson): If you've been feeling as a lot of people have, that the novel is suffering a decline into the second rate, then try The Face of Innocence. You'll find your faith in the contemporary novel rewarded.

 

J. H. Jackson, San Francisco Chronicle


Samsom handles words with the sensitiveness of a genuine artist; every scene he describes takes on a fresh and vivid quality...and again and again he brings to us the sour-sweet, prosaic-romantic taste of everyday experience.

 

Peter Quennell


Mr Sansom is an excellent story teller with a brilliant imagination. This is one of his best books.

V. S. Pritchett

 

A most distinguished novel. A story which might have been told by Sir Max Beerbohm or Mr Somerset Maugham.

The Sketch