David G. Izzo  

A Change of Heart

A historical novel about British author Aldous Huxley and his circle from 1929-1933, including Isherwood, Auden, Spender.



2004 Independent Publisher Book Award
for Historical Fiction

2004 Writers Notes Annual Book Award
for General Fiction

2003 ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Award
for Fiction: Historical


Praise for His Work

“David Garrett Izzo breathes new life into some of the great literary figures of the twentieth century. Historically accurate, fresh with energy, true to character (no easy feat), his prose offers rich new moments with Aldous Huxley, Christopher Isherwood, W. H. Auden and others of their constellation. Izzo creates a wonderfully voyeuristic atmosphere.”
--Dana Sawyer, author of Aldous Huxley: A Biography


“Whether you are an adept of Aldous Huxley, W. H. Auden, Christopher Isherwood, or any of artistic figures of the 1930’s, you will be enlightened and entertained by David Garrett Izzo’s remarkable A Change of Heart. His recreations are so astonishingly alive and accurate that you feel you are there at the creation, a sudden intimate of a brilliant and select group of artists and writers. Auden and Spender and others parry and debate, live and breathe again; the past recaptured! Izzo knows the period so deeply and has such powers of synthesis that even someone like myself who has been reading Auden for forty years will find fresh facts and will see material already known anew. Stunning, dense, just, and in the largest and best sense, true!”
--Roger Lathbury, George Mason University


“Though daunting at the outset, Izzo’s scholarship and wealth of information about the real lives of his central characters soon become the novel’s strength. The richness of fact and detail—especially about the principles’ psychological motivation, including, of course, for most of them their homosexuality—bring to life these figures of literature and literary stature. And in so doing give a deeper layer of meaning to their literature.”
--Toby Johnson, Editor, White Crane Journal


A Change of Heart by David Garrett Izzo is a detailed portrait of a now mythical time, England and Germany in the 1930s, as told through the lives of real and fictional characters. Here are the young Christopher Isherwood, Wysten Auden and Stephen Spender, as well as the celebrated Aldous Huxley and D. H. Lawrence. David Garrett Izzo draws on his vast knowledge of the times, the people, and their work to create a novel reminiscent of Huxley’s Point Counterpoint and Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin yet all his own. Izzo recreates the lives and loves of young and established writers and artists, along with their artistic, philosophic and political battles.”
--James J. Berg, editor, The Isherwood Century and Conversations with Christopher Isherwood


Sample from A Change of Heart

"Wherever he happened to be, Aldous Huxley seemed to stand above everyone physically and metaphorically as the tallest man in the room. His height was a symbol of an intellect that the dons at Oxford had envied--and this when he was just their brilliant student. Now, at thirty-five, he was the caustically devastating satirist of international acclaim whose novels skewered the very same dons and their ilk among the upper classes--his class. At the moment, while he and his twenty-one-year old companion, Peter Eros, are sipping after dinner cordials, another member of Huxley's class could be heard speaking vociferously. Huxley's monocle targeted the source of a blustery, orotund voice entering Palliser's, the restaurant where those who were in the news went if they wished to remain news. Gossip columnists paid "Francois" the maitre'd dearly for nightly tips concerning his reservations listing.

The moment's elite of the elite could dispense with reservations altogether to be seated in what was called, affectionately or disparagingly as the case may be, the "rare area" where tables were never reserved but granted at the discretion of "Charles," the manager. The rarest of rare enjoyed a perpetual slot in the celestial seating plan, royal titles and knighthoods dominating. For one among the rest who were only rare for various duration, one's zenith must inevitably peak; the climb, whether merited from a stubborn endurance or a miracle of mercurial precipitousness, ultimately must turn down and then one hears the near fatal words, disbelievingly at first--fragile vanity is a terrible thing--the sound of "down" from Charles: "Did you not call, Sir?" Tonight these words had just been directed at the now loud figure detected by Huxley's deadly monocle:

"Oh dear," Aldous whispered to Peter at their table in the rare area, "it's Wembley. I'm afraid he's not the brightest candle in the chandelier."

Indeed, Everett Wembley, despite his pedigree and money, despite his recent fame as the founder and leader of the British Freemen, would make a scene. Deplorable! And tres gauche, it simply wasn't done. Better men than Wembley accepted their fate with grace--either pure or feigned-- and had their aides make the necessary phone call. Wembley, Britain's Mussolini (another fool) had been, until recently, an appealing fascist, at least until Aldous aimed his surgeon's pen at him. (For Huxley, the fascists, seemingly buffoons on the surface, were symptomatic of much more dangerous emotions now circulating in Europe. In 1925, when Aldous lived in Florence, Italy, the Fascisti, guns in hand, searched his house with his wife Maria and five-year-old son Matthew enduring the nonsense as well. One does not find any humor in such a violation from clowns or otherwise.)


In his currently best selling novel, Point Counterpoint, Huxley barely troubled to hide Wembley under a different name, calling him Everard Webley. The novel's success had graduated Huxley from cult status to sensation.Aldous was in London briefly, having returned from where he was staying in Suresnes, France, to attend the premiere of This Way to Paradise, a play adapted from Point Counterpoint. No doubt, in Huxley's book, Wembley is vivisected in public. Others make the cut as well, particularly Huxley's good friend, D. H. Lawrence as Rampion, and Nancy Cunard as Lucy Tantamount, with her name not too subtly meaning that Lucy was tantamount to Cunard, she of the shipbuilding fortune, and a femme fatale who had once thrown Aldous over to be heaped upon a stack of other bodies trampled in her wake. She was aware of the reputation attributed to her, but declared herself a modern woman; broken hearts were not her responsibility. The wags of the gossip circuit called her Nancy Canard, the French word for hoax, or worse, Nancy Canaille, for scoundrel.

In his novel, Aldous spared no one including himself. He is the novel's novelist, Philip Quarles, who, with his aloof detachment and otherworldly perambulation into esoteric abstraction, pushes his wife Elinor into the arms of--yes, of all people--Webley. (Maria Huxley, one can be assured, is not Elinor, although she wouldn't disagree that Aldous was sometimes Philip, but a tamed version under her pragmatic Belgian earth-mother spirit that matched in quiet fire her husband's ice cool brilliance.)"


Copyright © 2003 by David Garrett Izzo.


David Garrett Izzo

Photo by Carol A. Corrody.


David Garrett Izzo is a writer of fiction and drama as well a scholar of modern British and American literature with numerous books and articles of literary criticism, literary philosophy, literary biography, and literary history. He is an expert in the years between the world wars. Izzo is at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Other Works

The American World of Stephen Benet
Aldous Huxley and W. H. Auden On Language

Christopher Isherwood: His Era, His Gang, and the Legacy of the Truly Strong Man

The Writings of Richard Stern: The Education of an Intellectual Everyman

W. H. Auden Encyclopedia
Christopher Isherwood Encyclopedia
W. H. Auden: A Legacy (editor)
Advocates and Activists Between the Wars (editor)
Thornton Wilder: New Essays (editor)
Stephen Vincent Bent (editor)


Publisher : Gival Press
DGI website : David Garrett Izzo


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