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In the Dark [Hardcover]

Deborah Moggach
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
RRP: £12.99
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Book Description

3 May 2007
It is the year 1916, pretty young Eithne Clay runs a shabby genteel South London boarding house while her gentle, dreamy husband is off at the War. Her 14 year old son Ralph dotes on his mother, but has adolescent thoughts he'd rather hide from her. Winnie, the young maid, is a homely, goodhearted country girl, rejected by Archie, the cheeky butcher's boy before he too is called up. When the dreaded telegram arrives at the house...things turn from difficult to desperate for the two young women. The lodgers are a curious but necessary burden - the Spooner family, with shell-shocked husband, sad wife and tiny, knowing daughter; Boyce Argyle, man about town and hero to young Ralph but recently missing; and blind Alwyne Flyte, communist and cynic, victim of a gas attack in the trenches. And then along comes the butcher, Neville Turk, big handsome ladies' man, irresistible for his meat, money and brutish confidence, who throws flighty Eithne into a turmoil, but has sinister plans of his own. Winnie and the blind lodger, meanwhile, conduct a strange, erotic liaison based on the fact that he can't see her...And young Ralph, ignored by his mother in favour of the butcher, looks on - feeling the undercurrents of desire, seeing more than he should (of sex, of the nightime dealings of Mr Turk, and what Flyte and Winnie get up to). All the strands come together in a shocking denouement, which turns a coward into a hero, and young Ralph into a man. They are all in the dark, with their dreams, secrets and fantasies. Electric light, new to their world, may be a boon but it reveals both grime and secrets. News of the war is never far away and casts a long shadow. Life is tough on the home front and they're all making do and working the system in different ways, sometimes comic, sometimes tragic and very human.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus; First UK Edition edition (3 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701181095
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701181093
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 14.4 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 922,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'A thoughtful, diligent writer' -- Sunday Telegraph

'Moggach's writing is acutely sensitive...an accomplished story
teller with a finely tuned ear for dialogue...' -- The Herald - Rev'd Shirley Whiteside

'Refreshingly low-schmaltz...successfully modernises the past. By
focusing on life's murkier undercurrents... the characters come to seem
appealingly familiar' -- The Sunday Times

'The great joy of this tender little novel is Deborah Moggach's
sensory imagination'
-- Guardian - Rev'd Kathryn Hughes

'deliciously vivid portrait'
-- Financial Times

`...a vivid evocation of lust and life on the home front.' -- Easy Living

`Deborah Moggach uses period detail expertly: she fills her
charming novel with atmosphere' -- Observer - Rev'd Geraldine Bedell:

`Deborah Moggach's affection for her complex, damaged characters
shines through the dark setting in this tender, funny and unsettling book' -- The Gloss

`Her trademark blend of humour and pathos. The details of life in
an Edwardian household are researched to perfection'
-- Scotland on Sunday

`The story has a gentle insistence' -- Daily Telegraph - Rev'd Alastair Sooke

Book Description

From the bestselling author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a story of war and desire set in South London's dark and dirty streets during WWI. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A rich stew of character-driven experience 4 Oct 2009
By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Set in a narrow terraced house in a London street, just after the start of World War I, In The Dark, tells the story of Ralph, aged 14, living with Mum and Dad, in their lodging house consisting of tenants who are mostly misfits and war casualties. Dad enlisted early and sends cheerful letters home telling of matey japes and football games in the trenches. Then Mum, Eithne, receives the telegram telling her that her husband is dead and circumstances become grim, until she attracts the attention of the flashy local butcher, Neville Turk, after which meals at the lodging house vastly improve and other changes are afoot for the inhabitants.

Moggach's rich stew of character-driven experiences captivates from the first page and there is an authentic feeling to every turn of the plot. The lodging house, next to a railway viaduct and prone to soot streaks and general grime, is almost another character as, Eithne's maid-of-all-work, Winnie, finds herself increasingly responsible for the well-being and upkeep of the family's proprieties. Young Ralph hero-worships the world-weary Boycie, soon to march off to war, and Eithne falls under the spell of the brilliantined and ebullient Mr Turk. Before the end of the novel Ralph will uncover a number of secrets kept by the family's lodgers, not least the shocking truth about the blind Communist sympathiser Alwyne Flyte.

This warm-hearted, funny and often touching novel is briskly paced and a pleasure to read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By N. Lake
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you like to be teased, surprised, intrigued and intermittently moved then buy this. It has a gripping story with lots of wartime detail, and characters that could grace a Dickens novel. It's not for the prudish though, as it snakes around a number of relationships, but it's never salacious, just inviting and involving.
You don't see the ending coming, which makes it better to read than many over-critiqued films are to watch.
Buy it and enjoy the fireworks!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grim life in London, WWI. 31 Aug 2008
Format:Paperback
This is basically a love story set in the dark days of WWI, when soldiers are returning home unable to speak of the horrors that they have witnessed. As usual Deborah Moggach manages to explore the alternative facets of the time she is writing about, and that is what makes this such an enthralling read.

The lives of the lodgers, the maid, who seems little more than a slave, but grateful to have a position, and Eithne and her son, who run the boarding house, are all portrayed in their grim reality; and then Neville arrives. Eithne is blind to everything but the excitement he brings into her life. But...carry on reading as of course there is more to most of the characters than meets the eye.

This is another excellent book from Deborah Moggach, although I did find it a little slow at the beginning, hence 4 stars, but glad I persevered.
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47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In the Dark 27 April 2008
Format:Paperback
Deborah Moggach is one of those well-selling female authors who's sometimes looked down on for not being literary. Like Joanna Trollope or Anita Shreve, say her detractors, she's a popular - populist - author churning out domestic sagas on a conveyor belt.

This simplification does these successful authors a disservice. They may deal with the everyday and their prose may indeed be accessible and non literary, but that doesn't mean their work should be undervalued. Any author that can bring reading to the masses deserves praise, and, as with Richard and Judy's recommended titles, sometimes first impressions are just plain biased.

In The Dark is a frisky love story set during WW1. Attractive Eithne Clay has a variety of lodgers in her large dilapidated London home. Her loyal maid Winnie and adolescent son Ralph help her run the place. Eithne, however, has always felt she's destined for higher things, and when excitement enters her life in the form of the lusty hulking form of Neville Turk the local butcher, she is swept up into a passionate affair. Meanwhile, the lives of those around them continues, with some disgruntlement.

If it weren't for the setting, Moggach's Orange 2008 longlisted novel would just be a bodice-ripper with added colour from peripheral characters. But Moggach has done her research and the smog-ridden, sooty London of 1916 - 18 really comes alive. Because the details are so convincing, the characters also rise from the page.

Very occasionally, a word that is so archaic crops up that one wonders whether it has been planted just for the sake of its age, for instance when Moggach describes Ralph's 'pollutions' at night (use your imagination).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In the Dark 25 Oct 2011
By kc
Format:Paperback
I really enjoyed this page turner. It is witty and amusing and has some interesting allusions to light and dark in a true Thomas Hardy way. It is a light read with some raunchy moments and in retrospect has an air of Adrian Mole's Diary about it. The characters are well depicted albeit without a great deal of depth but the narrative runs smooth and fast, like the steam trains that run behind their house.
I recommend it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful piece of writing 31 Jan 2010
By Mr. R. N. Lock VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
In this book Deborah Moggach has written a wonderful character driven story, its wonderful descriptive writing and keeps you intrigued throughout. It's touching, funny and saucy in parts and has some great twists to the story. This is the first book I have read of Deborah Moggach and I will definitely be reading more in the future. It's a master class in writing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
It's Ok and entertaining
Published 1 month ago by Tomsterer
5.0 out of 5 stars great story
Deborah Moggach always brings the characters to life. The image of the house under the railway bridge reminded me so much of Liverpool when I was a young girl. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Tish
5.0 out of 5 stars In the Dark
Great story with a plot and characters that grip you from beginning to end. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Sharon Burroughs
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story
. Different from the other books of her's I've read of hers but equally brilliant. Characters real and intriguing, storyline fantastic - didn't want it to end.
Published 7 months ago by Jeffery A Penrose
4.0 out of 5 stars very good read
despite the cheesy Romance cover, this is an erudite and superbly written "anti-romance," with wonderful characters and a fast-moving, well-constructed plot. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Zangiku
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Funny Book
This is a wonderfully funny book, set at the time of the First World War. Eithne Clay and her son Ralph own a dilapidated house near London Bridge. Read more
Published 14 months ago by gerardpeter
4.0 out of 5 stars In the Dark
Easy to read and well constructed. Deborah Moggach never fails to write a good story with characters you can believe in.
Published 17 months ago by Margaret Lewis
4.0 out of 5 stars First World War survival in England
Good storyline. Plenty happening to the believable characters, all trying in varied ways to stay alive, healthy, free and not go under in the deprivation caused by the War. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Angela Spain
5.0 out of 5 stars Slow start.
This novel was slow getting started but it was very good once into it. It portrayed the hardships of WW1 Britain and it was lovely to read of an aweful man get his just deserts. Read more
Published 19 months ago by rose
3.0 out of 5 stars Badly researched
In the Dark. Dettol in 1918? Dettol was not invented until 1929. Has spoilt the book for me - somewhat unbelievable.
Published 20 months ago by sos
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