A sharply witty dissection of class attitudes, the selfishness of the idle rich, and the apparent deterioration of values, Henry Green's 'Party Going' is one of the most biting and enjoyable texts to come out of 20th century Britain in the period preceding World War II. 'Party Going' focuses on a party waiting to take the train to begin their journey to Calais, to holiday in France. The trains are delayed due to fog, and stuck at the station, the party begin to show their true selves - a swathe of selfishness, class snobbery (amongst the upper class), and a mixture of honest values and unpleasant, bawdy lust amongst their 'help'. Green's novel evokes character very successfully, though sometimes the novel's intense cynicism has the unfortunate effect of making too many characters seem merely symbols for unpleasant selfishness, and elsewhere, Green's supposed heroine, Angela, is harder to like or empathise with, than Green appears to intend to make her.
The narrative is an interesting one - a mixture of humorous and serious sub-plots built around the main plot, with characters coming and going from the scene, all the while with the poorer citizens in the station being looked down on else patronised, by Max Adie's snobby party, above. Occasionally the station can seem a bit confining for the narrative, and whilst the claustrophobic location works as a metaphor for the stasis of Britain's upper class, and the feeling of society as a whole being somewhat trapped; it does mean the Novel feels a little narrow and, even dull, in a few places. On the whole though, 'Party Going' is a witty novel, that is both fun, and effectively frustrating; even if it sometimes seems a little one-sided, and squashed in.