Time of Hope

C. P. Snow

22 February 2018
514 pages


The life of Lewis Eliot – documented across eleven novels with C. P. Snow’s distinctive blend of precision and compassion – begins in Time of Hope.

The novel opens in the summer of 1914 when nine-year-old Lewis hears the news of his father’s bankruptcy, and closes in 1933, when, although hindered in his promising career as a lawyer by the neuroses of his wife, he realises that he cannot bear to leave her. In the course of this ambitious but ultimately unremarkable man’s early life rage the great questions of the age – questions of class, of gender, of ideology and of war – asked and answered with wisdom and tolerance.

A meticulous study of the public issues and private problems of post-war Britain, C. P. Snow’s Strangers and Brothers sequence is a towering achievement that stands alongside Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time as one of the great romans-fleuves of the twentieth century.

Mr Snow has established himself, on his own chosen ground, in an eminent and conspicuous position among contemporary English novelists
He has the solid worth of Trollope and Bennett at their best
Together, the sequence presents a vivid portrait of British academic, political and public life. Snow was that rare thing, a scientist and novelist.