In this first U.S. publication of British cult writer Robert Aickman's 1975 book, Cressida and her friend Vivien have little patience for the company of the marriageable men they are meant to endure in inter-war Britain. Yet neither do they possess the means to live as they might wish: together, and apart from the demands of modern society. What's a girl to do?
There's a nice light touch to the writing, with a great deal of fluff and froth to the dialogue-heavy narrative; it all skips along nicely and if it all isn't quite clear, the sheer oddity of the place and events is just as baffling to its two protagonists (with Cressida ultimately the dominant one) ... Aickman captures the time very well, with Go Back at Once feeling very much like a novel not just set in the 1920s but pitch-perfectly of that time ... It's all very agreeably presented oddness ... Good fun, and an enjoyable read.
Robert Aickman’s hitherto unpublished second novel, written in 1975, is an oddity, a puzzle box of queerness and a utopian fantasia ... The unsettled, dreamlike quality of [one] section is exacerbated by the odd way that time moves in the book, with years taking place over the course of a few pages, yet most of the second half of the novel being taken up with just three days ... The novel gives the constant, frustrating impression that its real purpose runs just beneath the surface, guessed at, but impossible to seize. The prose vibrates with energy—however, the overall result is meandering, without focus. The uncanny streak that characterises Aickman’s other work is discernible here and perhaps it’s in these hints, which come to fruition in his other works, that the novel’s main interest lies. In isolation,Go Back at Once is no more than a curiosity with the air of a fever dream, but it might encourage readers to seek out Aickman’s richer, stranger fruit, his short story collections Dark Entries and The Unsettled Dust which shaped the path of 20th-century uncanny writing.
Written in the 1970s and set fifty years earlier, Go Back at Once is a strange story, not only due to the odd dreams and surreal happenings surrounding the main characters but also because of the historical context needed for a contemporary reader to fully appreciate it ... For fans of cutting remarks, philosophy, and scandalous divorcées.