Shades of Greene, By Jeremy Lewis

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The Independent Culture

This account of a generation of Greenes confounds the fear of Graham when a similar project was mooted in 1974: "It fills me with distaste."

If it hadn't been so close to home, the novelist would have relished this group portrait of a profoundly English clan at the heart of the Establishment but wildly odd below the surface.

This contradiction was embodied not only in renowned Greenes, such as Hugh Carleton, whose period as DG of the BBC "infuriated a great many people", and Felix, a Maoist apologist and a Californian house designer, but also in unknown members such as Benjamin, who was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned for pro-German activity.

Most uncompromising of the lot was Graham, who passed his final years fighting the "corrupt Mayor of Nice".

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