Something About Women

Owen Bark, an Anglican clergyman, is unlucky with women. As a boy he had been bullied by an older sister and now, in his retirement, she still bullies him. His wife, taking their eight-year-old daughter, ran off with an American physicist. And when the time came for him to have his pocket picked it was, of course, by a young woman.

In spite of all this he idolises women, just as he had idolised his own mother, not so much for what she was, but for what she remained in his imagination as a young woman he had once seen in a painting. He carries his idealisation so far as to be against the ordination of women. This may seem a paradox, but he cannot accept that women are the same as men: they have a special glory of their own and to ordain them as priests would be the ultimate denial of that difference. His rejoicing over it is the great irony of his own life.

When the long-lost daughter Charlotte arrives in London with her American husband she tracks Owen down, much to his joy. He becomes involved in her affairs in a way no-one could have foreseen. Her husband has an illegitimate Czech son who fastens on Charlotte as a substitute for the mother he had to leave behind in Prague. Owen senses this as almost part of his own life.

P. H. Newby Book Cover P. H. Newby Book Cover