THE VODI by John Braine


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This second novel is not as strong a book as Room at the Top, or indeed as its own first half leads the reader to hope it will be, but it continues the promise of the first. Dick Corvey is a soft, weak, ""sensitive"", purposeless young man who in his late 20's comes down with TB and during most of the book is working his way back to near-health. He is the very opposite of Braine's opportunist, Joe Lampton, lacking all drive and relying since adolescence on his private fantasy of the Vodi to explain away every failure. The Vodi are full of contempt for the good and love the wicked and make them prosper. It is Dick's attitude of lack of accomplishment and responsibility which brings him to the sanitarium, flat on his back. This part of the novel is very well handled, making dramatic Dick's self-pity and aimlessness, a difficult feat. It is his redemption through love for one of his nurses that is soft and unconvincing, spotlighting the sentimentality which was the weakness of the earlier book. Nevertheless, there is some very good stuff here, the fantasy of the Vodi with its accompanying satire, the pictures of youth in industrial and mining Britain, the atmosphere of the pubs where the young veterans of World War II idled away their time, and Dick himself. There is an indication that Braine may be building up a gallery of post-war portraits, and he is certainly a young novelist to watch.

Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin