The book comes to an end with partings between the original trio of friends. Firstly, it is after a driving accident and an introduction to his brash City life that drives a wedge between Stringham and Templer.
But seeing his old friend gives Stringham an appetite to leave Oxford and head out into the real world and he allows himself to be manipulated by a Don who can place the young man in a position close to power providing him with useful information. Stringham is only too happy to leave Oxford and heads out of Jenkin’s life for the moment.
Secondly, Jenkin’s does finally head up to London to see his friend but Stringham announces that he is not going to see his friend and instead will concentrate on courting a rich woman. The parting of the ways takes up the last few pages and there is a sense of finality as the friendships sketched out in the first chapter have gone in different directions.
But what is absent from this story is a sense of regret. In France Jenkin’s is left after Widmerpool heads home and in Oxford he is left again after Stringham leaves. But there is never a sense of deep regret that he has chosen to take a slightly different path. There is a sense of not knowing where to go in the future, but not a sense of regret that you might have expected.
A review will follow soon…