FALSE PRETENCES: Written in the late-Spring of 1982, this novel has something of a Spring-like ebullience about it which takes us to the Norfolk countryside and to the stratagems of a radical writer-turned-artist by name of Jason Crilly (who for the most part remains veiled behind first-person narrations) to shake off a depression he contracted while living alone for several years in an insalubrious part of north London.  His wife Susan, whom he married shortly after moving to Norfolk, is avowedly one of the stratagems in his arsenal in this respect.  Also living in Norfolk are a number of eccentric or ironic personages who make a variety of claims on our protagonist's time, the most conspicuous of whom is Edmond Shead, the inventor of an artificial copulator, who requires of him that he uses his not inconsiderable artistic talents to depict this machine to graphic effect, thereby assisting Patrick Lyttleton, a businessman with designs on its production, to make a commercial success of it.  Shortly afterwards Jason renews connections with an old flame of his and this takes him temporarily back to London where, in view of her good looks and the sexual dissatisfactions he has recently been feeling towards his wife, he allows himself to be seduced by her.  Of even greater significance, however, is the fact that Philomena has just inherited a substantial property in the country and is anxious to move into it as soon as possible.  But her husband, who works in London, has no desire to give up his job in order to move there with her, since he has good prospects of promotion and is temperamentally averse to the idea of living in the country.  That leaves Philomena with the dilemma of whether to sell Blandon, her country house, or secure a divorce from her husband with intent to move there with someone else.  And that puts the pressure on our protagonist to decide whether he should leave Susan for Philomena, and hence an even bigger and more peacefully secluded house in which to conduct his campaign against depression.  Fortunately for him this decision is made easier by his secret discovery of Susan's infidelity when he returns to Norfolk, since she is having an affair with their local doctor, and that puts him in an easier frame-of-mind with which to return, subsequently, to Philomena and move with her to Blandon.  However, before their separation, his wife induces him to provide her with a child, but not exactly in the conventional manner!  The good doctor suspects nothing of the deception, however, and proceeds to marry Susan as a matter of course.  Those who esteem writers like Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell will probably find FALSE PRETENCES to their taste.


Copyright © 2011 John O’Loughlin




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