The event which opens The Old Devils is Malcolm Cellan-Davies’ receipt of the news that Alun and Rhiannon Weaver are intending to leave London and return to their old home and their old circle of friends in South Wales. This news is both welcome and unwelcome. Its welcome aspect is that the Weavers will bring a breath of life to what has become a stagnating environment. Alun Weaver is good company, an engaging talker to his men friends, still an attractive figure to their wives, and, moreover, a man with the glamour of celebrity. His wife, Rhiannon, was clearly a great beauty in youth, still regretted by Peter Thomas (with whom she once had an unlucky affair ending in abortion), still admired more platonically by Malcolm. Their arrival is accordingly looked forward to with excitement by almost all.
On the other hand, the Weavers also pose a series of threats. They threaten several marriages, through Peter’s continuing infatuation with Rhiannon, Sophie Norris’ readiness to restart an affair with Alun, and Gwen Cellan-Davies’ anger over having been jilted or rejected. Alun’s behavior also endangers the cohesion of the entire group of friends. Through the main body of the novel, there is a sense of strain beneath what seems to be a perfectly humdrum sequence of events, as this mixed and shifting group of old people entertain one another, have dinner together, go on excursions, and attend such innocuous public ceremonies as the unveiling of...
(The entire section is 532 words.)