Some Do Not...
Set immediately before and during the Great War, Some Do Not... is a tale of social cruelty among the English upper classes that pits real honour against shameless duplicity and subjects its principal characters to extremes of mental suffering that appear to be analogous to the (never directly described) physical horrors of the actual fighting. The plot revolves around the mores and desires of the intellectually brilliant but impossibly high-minded Christopher Tietjens, his icy wife Sylvia, and Valentine Wannop, a poor but well-educated young woman who loves Christopher, and is in many ways his moral and intellectual equal. In its time, the novel was unusual for its daring, often disorienting, use of flashbacks within scenes, for its scrambling together of interior and spoken dialog, and for the demand it places on the reader to interpret what is "really" taking place on the basis of slender and widely dispersed clues. As Julian Barnes has written "It will be a very rare reader who does not intermittently look up from the page to ask, ‘But did I know that? Have we been told that already or not?’ " Notwithstanding these difficulties, Malcolm Bradbury has described Parade's End, the tetralogy of which Some Do Not... forms the first part, as being, in toto, "the greatest modern war novel from a British writer".
As the text sometimes mentions persons' names out of context, the following list of characters is included to help the listener keep track of who is who:
Christopher Tietjens: intellectually brilliant youngest son of a wealthy landowner.
Sylvia Tietjens, née Sattherthwaite: Christopher Tietjens' wife.
Mrs Satterthwaite: Sylvia Tietjens' mother.
Father Consett: an Irish priest, friend of the Satterthwaites.
Vincent Macmaster: a colleague and friend of Christopher Tietjens.
General Campion: an old friend of Christopher Tietjens' father.
Lady Claudine Sandbach: sister of General Campion. Wife of Paul Sandbach.
Paul Sandbach, Conservative politician, husband of Lady Claudine Sandbach.
Mrs Duchemin: wife of the Rev. Mr. Duchemin, an Anglican clergyman.
Valentine Wannop: daughter of Professor Wannop, deceased (an old friend of Christopher Tietjens' father) and Mrs Wannop.
Gertie Wilson: friend of Valentine Wannop, wanted by police for allegedly criminal suffragette activities.
Mrs Wannop: an accomplished novelist and journalist fallen on hard times.
Lord Port Scatho: manager of one of London's greatest and most respected banks.
Mr Brownlie ("Brownie"): banker and nephew of Lord Port Scatho. Hopes to marry Sylvia Tietjens if/when she divorces Christopher.
Mark Tietjens: Christopher Tietjens oldest but childless brother. Current occupant of Groby, the Tietjens' estate.
Ruggles: A friend of Mark Tietjens who shares his London quarters and deals extensively in gossip.
Glorvina: Nickname of a 'great lady' who is the mother of two of Sylvia Tietjens' closest friends.
- Summary by Peter Dann
Genre(s): Literary Fiction