Sorrell and Son has guts and grace

Sorrell and Son is a sweet tale of a decent English gentleman, weakened by war wounds, deserted by his wife, who makes raising his son his life’s work.

Down to nearly his last shilling, army veteran Stephen Sorrell takes a job as a hotel porter.


Sorrell and Son by Warwick Deeping

Alfred A. Knopf, 1926. 400 p. 1927 bestseller #3. My grade: B.


It’s an awful job, but Sorrell does his work to his own exacting standards.  Impressed, a hotel guest, Thomas Roland, taps Sorrell to be second porter at the new country hotel he is opening.

The head porter there makes Sorrell’s life miserable until Roland gets fed up with the man’s bullying and womanizing.

Sorrell takes over as head porter.

Sorrell turns out to have managerial ability, and works his way up to become manager of one of Roland’s chain of hotels.

Sorrell makes enough to live comfortably and also pay for son Christopher ‘s Cambridge education, medical schooling, and surgical practice.

Christopher grows into as fine a man as his father could wish.

Warwick Deeping makes Sorrell just stubborn and resentful enough to keep him from appearing a plaster saint. Christopher, too, has his flaws.

Readers will care what happens to them.

Sadly, American class distinctions are based on economics rather than on ethics: Today’s readers will view this only as a story of a determined man.

©2016 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda Aragoni

I read. I write. I think. I make big ideas simple. I help teachers teach expository writing to teens and adults. In my free time, I read and review old novels.

3 thoughts on “Sorrell and Son has guts and grace”

  1. I absolutely agree, Linda. Warwick Deeping was sneered at a lot, apparently, because of his so-called class snobbery, mainly. However, I think that Sorrell & Son is a great story with true ethics (except for the euthanasia part), and I have kept my novel with an image from the wonderful TV series all these years! The series is available for free on YouTube!

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    1. I certainly don’t think of Warwick Deeping is a snob. At least in his bestsellers, his lead characters work hard, often in jobs don’t lend themselves to upward mobility.

      Have you read other Deeping bestsellers? Old Pybus is in the same line as Sorrell (Old Pybus is a grandfather reduced to being the “boots” at a country hotel) but Roper’s Row is one of his more unusual young lovers tales. Doomsday is an older Deeping writing about love in later life.

      I think Bridge of Desire is the only one of Deeping’s bestsellers that disappointed me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Linda,

    I am sorry that my reply is so late. I don’t think that Warwick Deeping was snobbish, either – he has probably been accused of this because some of the characters mistreated Sorrel or put him down because he was a Captain in the war and he’d come down in the world. He has also been accused of bad writing but I didn’t agree with that, either – at least as far as Sorrel and Son is concerned.

    The other bestsellers sound interesting as well. Some are free on the Internet so I hope to read them. My battered and beloved 1980s edition of Sorrel and Son will come first, though!

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