Nicholas, a teacher and a recent Oxford graduate meets Alison at a party. She is an Australian stewardess, quite experienced with men. They have an instant attraction and begin an affair. Alison falls deeply in love and wants marriage, but, while Nicholas loves her, he is not "in love". He has a British sense of class consciousness, and feels she is beneath him. He leaves London for a teaching job in Greece and once there his arrogance causes him some problems. He meets a mysterious Greek tycoon, and through him, also meets a beautiful young English woman with whom he becomes completely enchanted.
The story is about Nicholas's coming of age as the love triangle plays out. Alison is often in tears, as she tries valiently to sustain the relationship, as Nicholas begins to feel more bored, guilt-ridden and trapped. There are many on-lookers who continue to give Nicholas advice. The advice falls on deaf ears until he realizes, too late, that all those upon whom he looked down on knew more, in some ways, than he did.
The descriptions of the Greek scenery are awesome, and the plot is quite suspenseful.
This report prepared by Susan T, Smith
The young protagonist of this story, who is meant to be an educated "every man," dumps his loving girlfriend (because of his aversion to commitment) and goes off to a Greek island to teach at a prep school. There he makes the acquaintance of "Conchis" -- a mysterious and brilliant guru figure, reminiscent of Carl Jung -- and becomes the victim of horrendous psychiatric experiments and tortures, while becoming enthralled and sexually involved with a beautiful woman, Lilly, who may be two women. The experiments performed on him allude to myths, fables and to philosophical themes. In the end, he seems much worse off than before -- and without the mysterious woman whom he realizes that he loves and for whom he must return to England.
This report prepared by Juan Galis-Menendez
This is a three-ring-circus of a novel which either enthralls or infuriates its readers. Some find its technique delightful sorcery, others maddening trickery. A young Enghlishman named Nicholas Urfe escapes a romance and goes to a small Greek island to teach at a private school but soon finds himself caught up in the stories and live-action plays overseen by a mysterious, wealthy man named Conchis. This "magus" tells Nick stories about himself, reenacts or reproduces some of those stories with live actors, and in general utterly flummoxes both the hero and the reader of this book -- apparently to teach both something about life and literature.
This report prepared by David Loftus