yes Alemci, there are a few minor characters who didn't make it into the tv version and one of them is the insurance salesman who is plunged into poverty.
There's a very touching scene where he has to go to the assistance committee for money and Carne is on the committee having just tried and failed to borrow some money from his brother himself and the man is all ashamed and embarrassed and Carne makes a joke about it and makes him feel better.
I don't think so, but he's so wrapped up in his own problems (which admittedly are considerable) and also he's used to women admiring him, he probably doesn't ever notice unless he's after a shag. He would be a relatively unattractive character (seen dispassionately) if it weren't for his love for Midge - which of course is what makes Sarah change her view of him.
Mrs Beddows' love for Carne is one of the most interesting things about the book I think. There's the suggestion that she loved him too much, it was sort of an indulgence she allowed herself, and it makes her a much more rounded character the way her love for him is ambiguous, partly seeing him as a son, partly admiring him physically. I didn't pick up on the socialism/feminism parallel there but you're right.
it's interesting that for such a feminist book, Holtby picks such a stereotypical, dominant man riding a big black horse, type of love interest.
of course she subverts it by NOT getting it consummated and then him dying (sorry about spoilers Stewie) but there seemed to be something slightly depressing in the idea that even these modern women go weak at the knees at the sight of a tall strong ungovernable landowner.
I know she tries to make it a lot subtler than that though.