This book is great from the core and up. The structure is marvellous, the writing is, stylistically, by a master, and I didn't want to miss a paragraph. It's a horrid tale of rôles, love, hierarchies (including God), friendship and treachery. I loved it.
The boy grinned - a gash of white in the smooth grey elephant hide of his face: he had a look of sleek intelligence. Intelligence, to Wilson, was more valuable than honesty. Honesty was a double-edged weapon, but intelligence looked after number one. Intelligence realized that a Syrian might one day go home to his own land, but the English stayed. Intelligence knew that it was a good thing to work for Government, whatever the Government.
‘Do hurry up, dear. It’s so hot in the car. I’ll be glad when the rains come.’
‘If only they just went on for a month or two and men stopped.’
Scobie made the right reply. He never listened while his wife talked. He worked steadily to the even current of sound, but if a note of distress were struck he was aware of it at once. Like a wireless operator with a novel open in front of him, he could disregard every signal except the ship’s symbol and the SOS. He could even work better while she talked than when she was silent for so long as his ear-drum registered those tranquil sounds - the gossip of the club, comments on the sermons preached by Father Rank, the plot of a new novel, even complaints about the weather - he knew that all was well. It was silence that stopped him working - silence in which he might look up and see tears waiting in the eyes for his attention.
"A black boy brought Wilson’s gin and he sipped it very slowly because he had nothing else to do except to return to his hot and squalid room and read a novel - or a poem. Wilson liked poetry, but he absorbed it secretly, like a drug."