George Bowling, a forty-five-year-old insurance representative. Fat and sentimental, with a mouth full of false teeth, George is in every way the lower-middle-class Englishman, even to his love of reading and his nostalgia for an Edwardian, pre-World War I past that can no longer be found, except perhaps in memory. In order to escape the increasingly bland routine in his London suburban home, as well as his complaining wife and children, George fantasizes about taking a trip to his childhood home of Lower Binfield, a small town in rural Oxfordshire. He discovers, however, that one cannot go home again, for Lower Binfield, as many towns have, has become devoid of individuality as a result of “progress.” The childhood carp pool George dreams about fishing in again, for example, has become a rubbish dump in the middle of a housing tract of fake Tudor homes. George’s family home and the family business of Samuel Bowling, Corn & Seed Merchant has been reduced to Wendy’s Tea-Shop. George is a sentimentalist who gets teary over primroses, a middle-aged man who fantasizes about women without being able to do anything about them. He wants only peace and an authentic England, and he is right in his predictions about the start of World War II and about what will happen to England after the war: It will become even more standardized. George is a fleshy, three-dimensional character who is both a sentimentalist about the past and a...
(The entire section is 474 words.)