If the first book was about education, the second about entering the social world of dances and gossipy dinners then the third book culminates sealing the themes of love and adulthood.
The reason for the adulthood suggestion is that by the end Jenkins is secretly seeing Jean and most of his contemporaries have either suffered a marriage breakdown (Templer and Stringham) and as the fortune telling Mrs Endleigh pointed to at the start thoughts are on the future not the past.
This is illustrated with Widmerpool choosing the school reunion dinner to break convention and speak about his own success. Rather than conform to his image of the past he wants to establish another more successful name for himself. His outburst leads to his old house master La Bas suffering a stroke. At the end of the dinner, which breaks up quickly Jenkins and Widmerpool have to help Stringham, who is so drunk he can hardly walk, home and into bed.
A sense of failure, heart break and realism has crept in and it is no longer a case of reading about young friends and acquaintances dreaming of success and wealth.
A review will follow soon…