Thomas Cook's writing style is reminiscent of Robert Gordad. It has the same slow pace, the same absorption in the minutia of life as a substitute for emotion.
Cook explores the claustrophobia of small town life, the clannishness that excludes new experiences, the intrusive scrutiny of strangers and the intense anger at any infraction, especially after the fact.
Chatham School is a venture into the education of middle class children by a principal who believes that correct manners and behaviour will turn the little scrappers into gentlemen.
Two new teachers at the school, who did not grow up in the village, fall in love with each other. They are oblivious of the damage they will bring on the village. They bring the baggage of their past with them, which they idealise into some silly romantic bathos.
Unfortunately, the dreary tale of betrayal results in death. As usual, the woman is painted as an evil scarlet temptress.
Her condemnation results in a blight that stunts the life of the villagers.
The style is too romanticised, too emotional and a bit removed from the central characters.