Philip Carey becomes an orphan as a young teen and is sent to live with his clergyman uncle and aunt, a childless couple. He attends a prep school where life is made miserable by bullies teasing about his club foot. He defies the wishes of his uncle for him to become a clergyman after education at Oxford and instead lives for a year in Heidelberg. He does not "find himself" there and attempts to become an artist in Paris. He realizes he will never be great and decides to go into medicine as his father did.
It isn't until about half way through the long novel that he meets Mildred about whom he develops an obession. He realizes her many faults and weaknesses but cannot stay away from her. He gives in time and again to her unreasonable and selfish demands.
When I first read this book many years ago, I found Philip's obession incomprehensible. Having just finished it again for a book club discussion, I may have a bit more understanding but still feel irritated by the main characters.
This report prepared by Joan Teague