TOO LITTLE LOVE by Robert Henriques


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A tremendous panoramic novel of the twenty odd years in which England has gone through social revolution, from virtually a feudal state with great differences, socially and economically, between master and man, to 1948, with a Labour Government attempting to implement a new social order. The story is told effectively through a closeup of Neapcaster Park, the outlying rural neighborhood, and the Merediths, squire and household, on both sides the baize door. Geoffrey Greenley, non of the scholarly estate manager, is the focal point, the person on whom the impact in the earlier part of the story is shown in the oddly undefined status of loyal servitor at just below a level of equality, then later, inheriting the mantle of his father, but restive under the demands made on his loyalties and his emotions, and finally, in the postwar period, his futile attempts to escape these bonds, to how a new life for himself divorced from these loyalties. An interesting and challenging conception -- not wholly successful in the end result...Henriques has had an oddly baffling career. His first novel, No Arms No Armour, had the spotlight of publicity on it as winner of the All-Nations prize in 1939. It was a novel reminiscent of Lives of A Bengal with a dominant metaphysical note. Then came Voice of the Trumpet, a war novel, with a penetrating -- and sometimes oblique -- exploration of the mental processes of an officer, rather than a physical action expression. In Home Fires Burning there was, perhaps, less of fantasy in the story of returned soldiers, more of realism, but again there was a haunting sense of unfulfillment, anticlimax. Now, once more, the thread of story seems to thin out, the finals leaves the reader with a sense of futility, an inconclusive sense that while Geoff has acknowledged the compulsion of his loyalties, the future holds much of frustration and defeat. The love story, between Geoff and the General's part- French daughter-in-law, is brought to some measure of solution by external factors rather than growing out of the characters themselves. Perhaps herein lies the basic structural weakness of the novel- that it deals with broad sweep of social change, and uses people as props rather than instruments. Uneven in the writing, it seems almost sagalike at times, and again is creakingly old-fashioned, while in the main it has the pace of writing in the tradition of the English family novel. Don't bypass it.

Pub Date: June 9th, 1950
Publisher: Viking