Mr. Beluncle is essentially a collection of English middle-class characters, comic and tragicomic, in juxtaposition and collision. They undergo no development and engage in little action. What plot there is has three foci: the Beluncle family, the Beluncle-Truslove business, a small furniture manufacturing firm, and the Church of the Last Purification, to which Mr. Beluncle, Henry, Mary, and Judy belong.
The family is introduced on a Sunday, the only time the father is at home for the day. In addition to Henry, there are two younger boys, George and Leslie, and Mr. Beluncle’s senile mother. Basic animosities are soon revealed: between husband and wife, wife and mother-in-law, Henry and George and their father. The source of much of the ill feelings is Mr. Beluncle himself, whose principal idiosyncrasies are crucial to what little plot there is. He is house-crazy: Waking on Sunday morning before the rest, he “again set out occupying residences, sold all his furniture, moved new furniture into... mansions all over England....” His newest obsession is a large, expensive place called Marbella, which he cannot possibly afford (his partner, Linda Truslove, has just told him he is on the verge of bankruptcy)—but the “Divine Mind” of the Purification Church seems to have ordained its purchase. Marbella soon becomes crucial in his relations with his sensible business partner. It also becomes evident that he has a powerful affinity for other people’s money, which he “invests” in his misrun business and personal extravagances; he has “invested” his mother’s, sister’s, and partner’s money, and he is always on the lookout for more to support his impractical schemes and expensive tastes. People are important to him in proportion to their potential as “investors.”
As the slow Sunday passes, Mr. Beluncle is seen tyrannizing over family members. Ethel alternately rages at and resigns herself to her fate. Her husband’s house mania and financial follies have meant many moves as bill collectors have closed in. The Purification Church is another bone of contention. When he offers some religious platitude to justify having his way, she reminds him that she is a “heathen.”...
(The entire section is 907 words.)