(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

The action of God on the Rocks involves a small number of characters, who at the beginning of the story are leading quiet lives, seemingly no longer emotionally involved with one another. Elinor Marsh, who was once engaged to Charles Frayling, lives the restricted life of the Primal Saints, devoted to her strict husband Kenneth Marsh, who disapproves of her previous association with the wealthy Frayling family. Charles and Binkie Frayling live their separate lives in Dene Close; Charles is a retiring, sexless English teacher, Binkie a housekeeping spinster who pays occasional duty calls to the mother whom they both hate. Rosalie Frayling, too, is isolated at the beginning of the story, confined to her bed at the old Frayling home, which she has turned over to mental patients as a gesture of spite toward her disappointing children.

Directly or indirectly, it is Margaret Marsh, the eight-year-old protagonist, who brings together the lives of these characters. Because Margaret feels neglected after the birth of her brother, Terence Marsh, she is taken to Eastkirk, where she wanders off to the old Frayling estate and eventually meets Rosalie. On another expedition made for Margaret’s sake, Elinor resumes her relationship with Charles and Binkie and therefore breaks out of the narrow world of the Primal Saints. At the end of the book, it is Margaret’s disappearance which sends her father out in a storm to rescue her, a mission which costs him his...

(The entire section is 414 words.)


(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Duffy, Sister Gregory. Review in Best Sellers. XXXIX (November, 1979), p. 277.

Kirkus Reviews. Review. XLVII (August 1, 1979), p. 873.

Listener. Review. C (October 19, 1978), p. 518.

New Statesman. Review. XCVI (October 13, 1978), p. 479.

Observer. Review. October 8, 1978, p. 30.

The Times Literary Supplement. Review. October 13, 1978, p. 1141.