Form and Content
Less than Angels moves between three different worlds: that of London anthropologists competing over research grants, the suburban world with its secure and tidy routines, and a briefly sketched upper-class world in the English countryside. These worlds intersect through shifting romantic alliances, which are seen largely from the women’s point of view, and often point to the unequal relations between the sexes.
The novel begins with a party at a new anthropological research center, which gives Pym an opportunity to poke fun at the jargon of anthropologists and introduce Mark and Digby as wry observers of some of the absurdities of the academic world.
The main plot line concerns the love of three different women for Tom. Tom returns from two years of fieldwork in Africa and, although he still lives with Catherine, strikes up a friendship with Deidre. She falls in love with him, although Tom regards her as no more than a good listener for his talk about his work.
Later, Catherine spots Tom and Deidre talking intimately in a restaurant. Catherine reacts mildly, but as they discuss the matter later, Tom says he will move out of her flat. He moves into a room in the flat occupied by Digby and Mark. Tom has no intention of starting a serious romantic relationship with Deidre, and he sees her only as often as is needed for his sense of well-being, which is less than Deidre had hoped for.
Interspersed with the romance,...
(The entire section is 602 words.)