Original date of publication: 1950
My edition: 1979 (Virago)
Why I decided to read: For All Virago/All August
How I acquired my copy: April 2012, from an LT member
The Lost Traveller is a continuation of the story that was told in Frost in May; although the names have changed (“Nanda” is now “Clara”), the characters are essentially the same. When her grandfather passes away, Clara is sent home from her convent school. The reader watches her grow into adulthood, strongly influenced by her Catholic parents, while the first world war rages. The Lost Traveller is the first of a proper trilogy that continues with The Sugar House and Beyond the Glass.
Clara has a rather intense relationship with her parents, particularly her father, and a lot of the novel focuses on how she struggles with reconciling her childhood with her future, as uncertain as it is. As with Antonia White’s other novels, the theme and story are based on personal experience; White was heavily influenced by her Catholic upbringing, as is Clara. There’s more fiction in The Lost Traveller than there is in Frost in May (Clara’s relationship with Charles is an example). Therefore, the characters are much more fully developed and seen more objectively from the reader’s point of view. When I first started reading this book, I thought it was going to be yet another coming of age story, but I was pleasantly surprised. There’s so much depth to the story and its implications.