In his novel A Storm from Paradise, published in 1985, Stuart Hood retells a love story that took place in Scotland at the beginning of the 20th century. John Scott, a teacher in a small Scottish hamlet, falls in love with an East European socialist refugee, Elizabeth de Pass, who has been caught up in this provincial place by somewhat obscure circumstances.
Elizabeth offers John a fascinating glimpse of an alternative culture and life, but he cannot overcome the restraints of his upbringing, turns down the chance of leaving with his lover and settles into a more conventional career and marriage.
Stuart Hood evokes in this book a Scotland he himself encountered as a child, but it is also, as are all of Hood’s books, a novel of ideas. In many parts the male figure is modelled on his father, chiselled and shaped into a fictional character. Indeed, there are other experiences from Hood’s own life which are woven into the story of this Scottish schoolteacher. When I met Hood in autumn 2001, he mentioned that the figure of the East European exile was, in part, inspired by Rosa Meyer-Leviné whom he knew in London in the nineteen-sixties. She was “a Polish-Russian intellectual, a kind of left-wing Jewish intellectual. She lived in London, and she used to phone me and asked if I wanted to talk. She told me stories, about the German political situation, about Trotsky and Bucharin in Vienna, extraordinary stories, some maybe true some maybe not. She hated Trotsky. He saw her in Vienna in a new skirt. I think she was at that time the girlfriend of a rich Austrian industrialist. Trotsky made a snipping remark about shopping in a compartment store, and she never forgave him.”
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