As George Watson playfully observes, the story is the best thing about a novel. The deliberately ambiguous title of his book reflects the fact that it combines a study of the art of narrative with the history of the novel as a literary form, since its emergence some three centuries ago.
Employing a thematic approach, the author moves from one aspect of narrative to another rather than discussing novelists chronologically. The book considers various kinds of novels, such as the memoir novel and discusses issues such as the presentation of dialogue, the creation of scenes, tense and time and the relationship between the novel and history.
Arguments are illustrated by well-known rather than obscure works, or novels likely to be familiar to students who take this book as a starting-point for the modern study of narrative. The reader is presented with a clear picture of how the novel has evolved and how its chief conventions have developed and changed since the seventeenth century.
This new and revised edition brings back to life this invaluable and straightforward work on the technique of the novel, which first appeared in 1979.