The reef is a character driven novel about people living lives of stifling class consciousness. George Darrow’s fall from grace with the enchanting Sophy Viner is the catalyst for a web of lies and confusion which entangles not only them but Anna Leath and her stepson Owen. Wharton gradually reveals the implications of the brief affair and its concommittant untruths and dissembling. Both Anna and Owen, the unwitting victims are obliged to make decisions as the truth reals itself. Wharton’s opaque denouement to the novel leaves the reader in the dark about Anna. She also shuffles Sophy off to an uncertain fate and Darrow , the weakest of the characters may end up with his undeserved prize, Anna Leath herself.
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