The family is dominated by the kindly, eager figure of Mr. Garden and his perpetual quest for the true faith. His influence over his children can be understood not only through their symbolic names but also through the liberal religious base from which they all develop—some, such as Victoria, a conformists, others, such as Stanley, Maurice, and Rome, in various forms of dissent.
Stanley is an idealist. Whether working for the poor of East London, the, suffragette movement, or, in the Georgian period, the League of Nation Union, she throws her whole soul into everything she does, including marrying Denman. It is because of her need for total commitment that she cannot cope with a philandering husband yet suffers deeply when they part.
Maurice is the arch-dissenter, too tetchy and intolerant to share his life with anybody, least of all with the small-minded Amy. Yet the consistent and intelligence of his uncompromising political stance earns for him increasing respect.
Rome is perhaps the cleverest—and the least fulfilled—of all the Gardens. Although there are as many viewpoints as there are characters in the book, her attitude of wry passivity toward life is dominant and parallels the voice of the author herself, whose own opinions are expressed directly in the many witty passages of commentary.
The novel’s most intriguing character (although not fully realized) is Victoria’s daughter Imogen, whose...
(The entire section is 541 words.)