I found Hurtle's affair with Kathy Volkov to be much more convincing - disturbing, but in a realistic way. There was a sickly sentimentality to it, which up to the point was realistic, I think. Surely any man of 55 who has an affair with a 13 year old girl must be a sentimentalist in one way or another. Kathy's letter to Hurtle at the end of the chapter bought it right to the brink. I'm not sure if her confirmation of Hurtle's fantasies pushes the sentimentality out of the bounds of the character, till it overwhelms the story itself.
Speaking of a bit much, the coincidences are going completely mental by now. It was good to see Rhoda again, and what a brilliant character she is; but for Hurtle to come across her and her horsemeat cart just at that moment was a little absurd in a novel. Although, who knows: I suppose Sydney was a much smaller town then. This sort of thing would be less jarring on the stage, I think, and after a while I simply accepted the recurrence of characters like the Cutbushes as part of the novel's theatricality.
Once again, Hurtle reconstitutes himself by connecting with an ordinary bloke - this time a printer on a Harbour ferry. It's a good thing there is such a ready supply of ordinary mundane people in novels, to act as a kind of grout or neutral background for the main characters. I've yet to meet one in real life.