Denis Stone is a young poet finding his way in life who visits a rich friend's estate to write, encountering many of the "types" of the day, in Aldous Huxley's first novel. Denis Stone is a young poet, self-conscious and observant, who finds himself at the center of a group of aristocratic artists whiling away their time writing and talking at the opulent estate of a mutual benefactor. The impressions of the people he meets represent the judgments that form the identity of a young artist. He endures a lengthy history of the estate by Mr. Wimbush, covering matters as trivial and tedious as the building of privies by previous generations. He meets a pompous mystic who describes his process of self-hypnosis and subsequent revelations. Another guest, a preacher, pontificates on the coming Armageddon that must follow the recent world war. He meets other personalities: rich socialites with nothing to do, a verbose philosopher, a pretentious writer whose success enables him to laze and brag his days away. The most illuminating character is Jenny, a deaf woman in her thirties. She stays distant, apart from the action for the most part, writing in her journal. When Denis reads her writing, he realizes that there are other people in the world beside himself who are capable of sensitivity and sound observation. Much of the rest of the book is concerned with his love for Mary. The two investigate their mutual attraction and in light of their own emotional immaturities. His love goes on to be unrequited. These and other characters in the story represent the sorts of people that formed Stone's (basically Huxley in a fictional guise) character and identity. He leaves the estate more himself than he has ever been before.
Best part of story, including ending:
The book gets pretty tedious with all the talking. Some passages are a real drag.
Best scene in story:
Mr. Wimbush's endless history of the estate and his listeners' boredom is very funny.
Opinion about the main character:
Stone can be verbosely whiny, which gets old.