Ellen is a cheerful housewife and loving mother who delights in her beautiful old manor house, Netherfold, with its rambling garden, cherry tree and stables. She is blissfully unaware that the young French woman her mother-in-law hires as a companion has her eye on her husband. The manoeuvres of the ambitious and opinionated Mademoiselle Louise Lanier with her magenta lips and matching nails would ring alarm bells with almost any woman but the selfless Ellen and, as a reader, you want to warn her to send the little tart packing!
I'm not going to give the story away, but a lesser novelist would have Ellen undergoing some kind of makeover in order to make her husband desire her again. Fortunately, Dorothy Whipple provides a far more subtle, poignant and perceptive portrayal of marriage and family life which is not without humour. A wonderful book which I couldn't put down.