A MATTER OF SUCCESSION by Patrick Cruttwell


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Patrick Cruttwell's second novel, as was his first, is drawn up like a parable and quartered in politics. Sometimes taut, sometimes tart, it concerns the crisis caused by the death of the Chief Minister of an unnamed state, presumably a colony of the British Commonwealth, and the effect this has on the public and private lives of the contenders for the succession. One is an old guard aristocrat, haughty but hapless, whose family- like the Cecils- has midwived statesmen for generations; the other is a middle-class, middle-aged, middlebrow ""revolutionary"". Thus the antagonists face each other, the conservative versus the progressive. In between, there's the ambiguity of a scrap of paper left by the deceased leader propelling something called the Search and something else which might be dubbed suspense. Further members of this group clash; the effete chief priest haggles with the crafty chief civil servant, and the wives of the two contestants meet. And of these it is Lady Trevor, shimmering, sensitive and sad, who emerges as the most compelling character around. Her romance with a widowed journalist, estranged from his teenage son, and her heartbreak, are poignantly portrayed.... Ultimately more successful in manner than in matter, this is still an interesting study of social and emotional interactionism with a certain suggestion of allegory.

Pub Date: March 5th, 1962
Publisher: Macmillan