Among Charley Brown’s first deeds as an evacuee to Longwater in the West Country was to let loose the local bull. Boys who one minute had taunted him with the refrain ‘Ballocky baldy’ (Charley’s lice had been evacuated from London with him), were the next minute acknowledging him as their natural leader.
Charley Brown, one of Joyce Cary’s most uproarious and memorable creations, is a love and a terror. He is a quivering jelly in the hands of girls and women of any age who show him kindness; through the wild force of his imagination he holds children rapt with tales of desperate gunmen with exquisite manners and a taste for the beautiful.
Delinquent and aesthete, he leads his gang into daring acts both grand and bad. As Charley’s sweetheart Lizzy Galor rightly puts it, he’s every bit as good as the movies...
“Splendid entertainment, a peep show and a vivid analysis, full of sympathy and abounding in madly logical ridiculousness.”
“To find a novelist who saw more deeply and conveyed more truly you have to go back to Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, Balzac and Goethe, Mann and Hesse.”
“One of the best of our novelists, certainly one of the most original, in the great early tradition of Defoe and Fielding.”
“A patient and penetrating analysis of children’s minds.”