child is born with Down’s syndrome,nand this is seen as a result of the safenmethod, which often causes conceptionnlate in a woman’s menstrual cycle, whennthe chromosomes in the egg are weaknand liable to cause congenital birth defects.nWhether this presentation is tme isna question for medical science, but it’snworth noting that Lodge makes the case.nLodge continues his digression on thentheology of contraception and HumanaenVitae in what seems a central passage:nIt is as difficult to enter into thenmind of a Pope as it must be for anPope to enter into the mind of,nsay, a young mother of three, in andouble bed, who feels her husband’sncaressing touch and isndivided between the desire to turnnto him and the fear of an unwantednpregnancy.nNow I am not a Roman Catholic, notnbound to defend Humanae Vitaen(though I happen to agree with it), butnapart from the assertions about contraceptionn, there is a spiritual position takennhere, probably part of what reviewer BernardnLevin called this book’s “verynremarkable moral stance.” This “stance”nis, simply, the denial of holiness, thatnmeasure of God’s infinite goodness asnopposed to man’s sinfulness, which is thenprovince of the Church. Lodge treats thenmatter emotionally and sympathetically,nand some non-Catholics may be inclinednto agree with him; I would contend,nthough, that this formulation asserts thatnthe will to pleasure takes precedence overnrhe claims of holiness. Lodge labors tonmake the Catholic position on contraceptionnlook useless and anachronistic, anharmful accretion of outmoded ideas,nbut it is precisely at the intersection ofnmoral claims that serious thought is required.nThe liberal backs away and saysnthat if something is done in love, then allnis well—thus inserting a wedge betweennhimself and reality.nFor all the arresting satire in the latternhsMoi Souls and Bodies—whose target isnthe liberal group formed by the charactersnand called “Catholics for an OpennChurch”—the “remarkable moralnstance” at the heart of modernism so frequentlynexposed by Malcolm Muggeridgenremains the central thesis of thennovel. When one finishes a novel bynWaugh, he emerges feeling bruised.nThis feeling of having been batterednstems from the unyielding moral andnspiritual truths held by Waugh whichnprovide the basis of his irony and humor.nIn A Handful of Dust, for example,nthough marriage is not idealized, thenspiritually decadent denial of marriage isnthe source of ironic calamities. BecausenDavid Lodge’s moral stance is essentiallynsecular, his novel does not possess a tragicndimension, and though it is often quitenamusing, it leaves one with the feelingnthat something is sadly missing: there is ancertain emptiness below the laughs.nLikening Lodge to Waugh and Greenensimply doesn’t wash.n1 here are times when the dust-jacketnblurb, written by publishing companyneditors with their eyes on trade statisticsnrather than literary merit, does regrettableninjustice to a book. This is partiallyntme of County Woman. Describing thennovel’s heroine, the blurb reads:nAllie McCall, fifty and white, is opennto all the new ideas about class, race.nand domestic roles that accompanynthe integrationist tide. A house wifenwho has lived all her life in [a] smallnfarming community . . . Allie findsnmiddle age and her “traditional”nnnmarriage stagnant, and seizes the tumultuousntimes as an opportunity fornpersonal renewal.nThis accurately describes half of thennovel, for County Woman is really twonnovels in one. First, there is the liberal/nfeminist morality play, which the blurbndescribes and which apparently sellsncopies. Second, there is a well-toldnsubplot that involves crime and corruptionnin a rural Southern community,nwhich reveals an imaginative ability tonportray a lower-class and insular culturenand the moral life of simple people. Thisn”second” novel begins to emerge in thenmiddle of the book when Miss Williamsnleaves her heroine to develop the subplot,nbut, just as the story starts to stmggleninto life, it is squashed by thenheroine’s quest and settles back intonsomething like a made-for-TV movie.nThere is an almost complete identificadonnbetween the author and her heroine;none searches in vain for any sign ofnironic undercutting of Allie McCall. Innboth the description of AUie’s thinkingnand in the narration the bedraggledncliches of liberalism and feminism arenheaped upon each other until the wholenmess threatens to come crashing down.nAll her life she had fought against anfeeling of nothingness, and in middlenage she had the terrible fear that shenwas losing that battle. . . . She hadnnever been content with the idea thatnone lived for each day. . . . Shenwanted to accomplish something, shenwanted something of her own. . . .nPoppa, though, had a mean streaknlike most men. . . . Men went on beingnboys. … Grown-ups in those daysnhad little thought for the feelings ofnchildren . . . they didn’t think ofnchildren as people.nAnd on and on and on.nAllie McCall’s husband, Tate, is shynand weak; he has never asserted himselfnpubhcly; even his choice of farming afternthe war is seen as a shirking of manly initiative.nAUie’s father is a mean-spiritedninvalid who watches TV all day andnthinks that President Kennedy and theni27nDecember 198Sn