Susan Traherne, the central character of the drama, who is profoundly frustrated in her attempt to find personal and professional fulfillment in postwar England. At the age of seventeen, she served as a Special Operations Executive Courier, working with the French Resistance against the occupying Germans in 1943. After the war, she regards the future with hope and optimism but finds only frustration and boredom. Her life peaks emotionally when she meets a British agent, known only as Codename Lazar, under dangerous circumstances in France. She is courted by Raymond Brock, a career diplomat who loves her, and by a working-class lover named Mick, with whom she attempts, without success, to have a child. After she suffers a nervous breakdown, Brock marries her and attempts to care for her. Always restless and unpredictable, Susan manages to ruin Brock’s career, then deserts him. Although her motives are ambiguous, Susan is meant to be a sympathetic character.
Raymond Brock, a career diplomat, forty-one years old in 1962, who first meets Susan in Brussels in 1947 and agrees to help her through a difficult situation when the married man with whom she is traveling dies of a heart attack. Brock later courts her in London and marries her after an explosive situation that results in her nervous breakdown. Brock is described as delightfully ingenuous, a man whose natural humor is eroded by years of dull, bureaucratic service at the Foreign Office, where mediocrity is valued and rewarded.
Alice Park, Susan’s friend and flat mate after the war, a would-be writer, bohemian, and nonconformist. She later...
(The entire section is 701 words.)