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Time and Time Again by James Hilton

Time and Time Again


subjects: Fiction

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This work is available for countries where copyright is Life+70 or less.


A middle-aged British diplomat reminisces about his life from his college days at Cambridge through his early fifties. The protagonist, Charles Anderson, leads us through World War I, first love, and the progression of his diplomatic career. Tragedy during World War II almost ends his career. A continuous thread throughout the novel is Charles’ turbulent relationship with his distant and difficult father. Set in the years just as WWI was ending to the advent of WWII, it is the story of an English diplomat that moves between the past and present.

389 pages with a reading time of ~6 hours (97332 words), and first published in 1953. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, .

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Towards midnight Charles Anderson finished some notes on a talk he had had with a newspaper editor at lunch–nothing very important, but he thought he ought to keep Bingay decently informed. The hour and the completion of the task seemed to call for a drink, so he went to the bathroom for some water and then to his suitcase for the silver flask that he always carried on these junkets and tried to keep replenished. He was not much of a whisky drinker (so he would say of himself when he ordered wine), but he liked a nightcap either in bed before turning out the light or during that last half- hour of dressing-gowned pottering when he would tidy up the affairs of the day both in his mind and on his desk. He was tidy by nature and years of experience had made him save, whenever possible, some small but relaxing job for a final one, even if it were only an entry in his diary or a jotting for the book he was one day going to write.

Tonight, however, there was no doubt as to what the job should be. He had been thinking of it, off and on and with increasing satisfaction, all day; it had been a sort of protective armour at moments when he had needed it. And now, with the drink at his elbow and the sounds of the city pleasantly audible from beyond the closed and curtained windows, he took a sheet of hotel notepaper and wrote:

My dear Gerald,

As you may have seen from the very small print in the English papers, if you bother with them at all while you’re on holiday, I’m with Sir Malcolm Bingay at the Conference here–a rather exacting job, one way and another, and I’ll feel relieved when it’s over, especially if we get any kind of agreement out of all the talk. Meanwhile there’s a more cheerful event next Thursday which I expect is on your mind as well as mine. Do you remember (no, I daresay you were too young) that time at Parson’s Corner when I visited you there and the fun we all had making plans for your seventeenth birthday? Anyhow, I’m enclosing a small gift in case you’re still in Switzerland on the great day. I believe, though, you talked of returning to England about then, so it occurs to me, why don’t you break the journey in Paris? We might see a few sights and have a civilised dinner for once, so let me know the date and time of your train if you can possibly manage it.

Your affectionate father,


That done, and the envelope addressed care of Thomas Cook’s, Lucerne, Charles finished his drink in bed and went quickly to sleep. He was a good sleeper, not because he had nothing to worry about, but because as a rule he had worked hard enough to be tired and conscientiously enough to be untroubled by conscience; lately, though, he had begun to feel sometimes TOO tired. But there need not be much more of it, he consoled himself; he would soon be on pension, and with each recent year ambition had withdrawn less reluctantly from the probably unscalable cliffs and had begun to settle for the long comfortable valley just round the corner.

After a couple of days Charles received a wire from Interlaken:


When Charles had digested this he happily made a note in his engagement book and then muttered in the presence of Sir Malcolm Bingay’s secretary: ‘I don’t mind okay, but MAKE it … and c.h.e.c.k. cheque … really … hasn’t he got over all that yet?’