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May Sinclair’s 1921 novel tells the story of the ridiculous Mr. Horatio Bysshe Waddington, a pompous, self-deluded poser making his way through life caring only for the impressions he makes on others. His long-suffering wife Fanny, his secretary Barbara, and the young scapegrace Ralph watch his daily performances with delighted, affectionate fascination as if they are spectators watching a play or scientists observing a new species, wondering every day how far he will go to fulfill his outrageous pretentions. As usual, Sinclair’s light, deceptively innocent prose camouflages a tale of sexual passions and human foibles with philosophical implications about her post-war world.
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