George Passant is the first volume of C. P. Snow’s 11-volume Strangers and Brothers series. In fact, this book was originally published in 1940 as Strangers and Brothers. It tells the story of an idealistic, progressive, young attorney in post-WWI England determined to build his career and passionately devoted to helping his group of friends.
Unfortunately for George, his dual aims lead to some questionable financial dealings and he and two of his protégés end up facing criminal fraud charges. It soon becomes clear that George’s lifestyle is on trial more than his business practices, leading to an impressive courtroom finale.
It is a good story, well told. However, it has not aged particularly well. It requires an exceptionally willing suspension of disbelief to be shocked by the notion that a bunch of single twenty-somethings had sex with each other. Free love and communal living (weekends only) may have been scandalous in the 1920s, when the book was set, and even when it was first published. But now it takes a conscious effort to comprehend just what all the fuss is about.
Read it as the gateway to the rest of the series. Read it because Snow is a good author, and what he wrote about relationships among friends and professional colleagues, and the continual need to hone one’s reputation, still rings true. But don't read it as the sensational courtroom drama it originally was.
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