The Rise of Mr. Warde

Duncan Sprott, Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (220p) ISBN 978-0-312-06932-2
British author Sprott's fiction debut is a disappointment: its passable account of the social pretensions and male chauvinism of Victorian England fails to compensate for a depressing plot and insipid characters. Based on an actual figure, the narrative details the antics of the eponymous Mr. Warde, a spoiled aristocrat whose prodigal spending, lecherous adventures with local farm women and abuse of his spouse lead to financial and social ruin. The history of his privileged youth and idle adulthood as prominent local official and social arbiter neither explains nor excuses Warde's behavior. With such a sadistic, vain and crude protagonist and minor characters who seem to exist only to reinforce his worthlessness, this chronicle of the decline and fall of a ``gentleman'' is tedious and predictable. Long passages of witnesses' testimony in Warde's many legal battles further reduce pace and interest. Warde's ignominious end is a fitting conclusion to a wasted life--and a huge relief to the reader. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
Genre: Fiction
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