Although the novel centers on Leonard’s interior life, Storey keeps at a disconcerting distance from his protagonist throughout the novel, frequently refusing to tell the reader directly what Leonard is thinking; phrases such as “He seemed angry” are common. Thus, although the novel is told from his perspective, Leonard himself finally appears an unfathomable creature—and this despite the novel’s rather labored presentation of his early psychological history and its provision of analogues. His father, for example, is also a solitary man with religious tendencies and chooses as his mate a robust working-class woman: Leonard confuses his mother with Tolson at several points, as if—in Storey’s world and perhaps in England—class identity were more powerful than family likeness. Similarly, his uncle’s unconsummated affair with Blakeley prefigures Leonard’s with Tolson. Essentially, the problem with Leonard as a character results from the fact that he is intended to represent the soul only, that is, only half a human being: In Radcliffe, Storey writes to illustrate his ideas; the ideas are not implicit in an organic piece of writing.
With the “body,” the other half, Storey has an unqualified success. Himself the son of a Yorkshire miner and a former professional footballer (experiences on which he drew in his first novel, This Sporting Life, 1960), Storey’s writing is at its best in the scenes involving Victor Tolson:...
(The entire section is 578 words.)