The Heart of the Matter – post I

Keeping with not just Graham Greene but also with one of his Catholic novels you go from Mexico to a West African colony and from one main character with no name to another with one that is pretty memorable. Within pages you are slowly engaged with the hot and frustrating life of Scobie and the problems he faces at work and at home.

Bullet points from pages 1 – 52

* Things start with a new arrival, Wilson, looking down from a balcony and being introduced to the heat, the cynicism and Scobie, a moment that Greene describes as something he will remember in the future

* Then the story switches to Scobie who is informed by his boss that although he is retiring Scobie has been passed over and is now expected to retire, an option that Scobie turns down despite the problems it will cause for him with his wife

* His wife Louise has no friends and is desperate to leave the colony and begs her husband to retire or at least let her move to South Africa where she has some friends who like her, instead of just Wilson who she meets and shares a mutual interest in poetry

* Scobie asks the bank for a loan but is turned down and starts to muse on the possibility of accepting bribes as one way of finding the money to pay for his wife to leave and travel to South Africa

Just like Tench in The Power and The Glory, Scobie is trapped by his lack of funds not being able to pay for passage out of the country. Quite what he will do about it remains to be seen. More tomorrow…

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