I'd like Howard Spring better if I didn't always dislike his leading character. Once again this is true. Theo Chrystal, curate, is an opportunist, and the very fact that he recognizes himself for what he is -- while making him credible -- makes him unlikable. He has come to Manchester as curate to the beloved vicar, Mr. Burnside, who is his very opposite -- a spiritual man, a saint whose feet are firmly placed on humble paths, who feels that the human contact is of greater importance than the intellectual or the shell of the spiritual. Theo is accidentally injected into the very beginnings of the phenomenal creation of the popular sheet, Hard Facts. He comes to know intimately the people connected with it, and he finds himself falling in love with Elsie, whose story he vaguely thinks he knows, and whose eccentric brother Alec is the recalcitrant editor of the paper. But when Elsie's actual past is revealed to him, Theo cannot face it -- and turns again to his benefactress, Lady Adela Pinson. Through the course of the story Spring again reveals his knowledge of the depravity of poverty, of the slums and their social implications, the awkward steps to success. His capacities as a story teller -- his convincing characterizations -- and the sprawling canvas of his tale -- all combine for that ever popular good, long book.