(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Chance and opportunity affect the romantic misadventures of the young lovers depicted in Take a Girl Like You: after other combinations are tried and found wanting, the attachments that remain seem to be the best of an uncertain bargain. Along the way, varying erotic expectations produce a tug of war that is alternately poignant and comic. Jenny Bunn, an attractive young schoolteacher, is adapting to the tedious routine of instructing and disciplining her charges when a new and outwardly exciting man appears. Although he originally asks to see Anna le Page, a French girl who is staying with her, Patrick Standish takes a fancy to Jenny and offers to take her for a drive in a vintage sports car. He asks her to dinner at a fine local restaurant; they leave just as Patrick’s friends enter. He brushes aside their banter about his newly discovered love interest. Still under his spell, Jenny accompanies him back to his house, but she resists his further advances. He pleads with her and declaims against conceptions of old-fashioned womanly virtue; she, however, is not to be had so easily. After a prolonged discussion, and a verbal standoff, they agree at least to meet again.

Complications arise when others are drawn into the imbroglio. When Jenny tries to confide in Anna, the French girl scoffs at notions of maidenhood and unabashedly begins to kiss her. Although not exactly leering, Patrick’s friends begin to take an interest in Jenny; she, in turn, reluctantly begins to conclude that she can expect no better from them. Julian Ormerod, the most dashing and flamboyant of the men, hosts a luncheon party for target shooting and social drinking; at this gathering, those involved actually become more suspicious of the others. When she meets him alone, Jenny is put off by the pedantic, roundabout discourse of Patrick’s friend Graham McClintoch. Still, reconciliation on the main front is not yet in the offing When Patrick seeks out Jenny at her room and offers to apologize for his attempt to take liberties with her earlier, she dismisses his explanations and roundly rebuffs him. He, in turn, upbraids her for a coyness which, he predicts, will only land her in worse predicaments with men later in life.

This dilemma only takes on larger dimensions...

(The entire section is 927 words.)


(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Bliven, Naomi. Review in The New Yorker. XXXVII (April 15, 1961), p. 162.

Gardner, Philip. Kingsley Amis, 1981.

Hynes, Samuel. Review in The New York Times Book Review. XLV (February 26, 1961), p. 4.

Macleod, Norman. “’This Familiar Regressive Series’: Aspects of Style in the Novels of Kingsley Amis,” in Edinburgh Studies in English and Scots, 1971. Edited by A. J. Aiken, Angus McIntosh, and Hermann Palsson.

Parker, R. B. “Farce and Society: The Range of Kingsley Amis,” in Wiscosin Studies in Contemporary Literature. II, no. 3 (1961), pp. 27-38.