The architecture of Cronin’s novel is not complicated. It progresses from start to finish in a straight line. It employs no radical or avant-garde literary techniques. Cronin’s work enjoys so much popularity that by 1958, seven million copies of his books had been sold, exclusive of translations, which account for another large body of sales (Russian translations alone having sold three million copies by the early 1960’s).
This remarkable popularity is accounted for largely by the fact that Cronin is a master of characterization. His conflicting characters evoke and sustain the kind of popular interest that the characters on television soap operas such as Dallas and Falcon Crest have in the 1980’s, despite their obvious differences.
Andrew Manson is the innocent, sincere, hardworking professional that people wish every doctor might be. He marries the compassionate, attractive Christine, who is cast from the same mold as the idealistic teacher in Emlyn Williams’ The Corn Is Green (1938). Manson is pitted against the forces of ignorance and evil that plague society. He is ahead of his time, and he often has to pay the penalty for being so advanced.
Juxtaposed to Manson is the dying Dr. Page, a doddering old man who seems never to have been a very good doctor. His wife is domineering, avaricious, ignorant, and unjust, quite the opposite of Christine. When Manson leaves Blaenelly, he finds the...
(The entire section is 490 words.)