FIRST PRINTING 1961
COVER ART BY FRITZ WEGNER
JAMESS BARLOW'S new novel brings the oldest struggle in the world, the endless fight between good and evil, into IVc classroom in the slum Railway Street Secondary Modern School. Here are, under the care of Graham Wier, forty pupils, most of them dull, indifferent and hostile, but a few eager and worthwhile.
Wier, shabby, idealistic and sensitive, is a small man-many of his pupils are obviously far stronger than their teacher. His main enemy in IVc is Mitchell, a fifteen-year-old with the physique of a man and the cunning of his slum environment.
Mitchell's plans include the seduction of Shirley Taylor. In a form of pupils not very willing to learn, Shirley is outstanding. She is a shy, honest, likeable girl, attractive to Mitchell because of her physical appearance and to Wier because of her sincerity. But the battle is more complicated than Wiers knows, for Shirley is in love with her teacher. She is subtle despite her youth and persuades Wier to coach her at home. After a series of innocent episodes, Shirley concludes that her teacher is at last in love with her, and in a London hotel, she declares herself. But Wier's affections are those of a teacher; he rejects her-gently, even reluctantly, but irretrievably. Her love turns to immense hatred. Knowing how it will hurt him she goes with bitter eagerness to be soiled by Mitchell, and with a cunning heart and a shy face complains to her mother of Wier's behaviour.
A charge of indecent assault is brought against Wier and the evidence is alarming. Events that were tender, innocent, now assume a guilty aspect. His trial in the magistrate's court and the effect of the trial upon his life form the climax of the book.
James Barlow's last novel, The Patriots, was one of the big fiction successes of 1960. Film rights were sold for a high price, and it was the Book Society's Choice, has been published in America and is now being translated into nine foreign languages. Term Of Trial, with its frank understanding of today's young delinquents and the awful power they can command, will, we believe create a still greater sensation.