Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Someone at a Distance

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.


Cath said...

Oooh, I was reading about this on someone else's blog yesterday, but not this edition. I didn't realise it was also a Persephone book and one of their new classics. Maybe Waterstones will have it like they did Mollie Panter-Downes wartime stories. Thanks for the tip-off I shall go and look next time I'm in town!

Karen said...

It is a wonderful book!

_lethe_ said...

Thanks for the review, I'm looking forward to reading the book!

I've seen several references to Dorothy Whipple in the past few days, there is a nice article here in case you missed it.

Vintage Reading said...

Yes, I've been that article from the link on Karen's blog. It's very good. The Whipple line, indeed! Still, I suppose even Jane Austen didn't get the acclaim she deserved in her own lifetime.

Cath - I bought my copy from Waterstones.


Anonymous said...

This is a terrific book. Persephone have published three of this author and they are all very good indeed. I have ransacked second hand book shops over the last few years and have most of hers now on my shelves. A very undervalued writer in my opinion

Tara said...

I *loved* this book, and find it difficult to believe Whipple was out of print for so long. Thank goodness Persephone brought her back!