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The New House Paperback – 22 Mar 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Persephone Books Ltd (22 Mar. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903155371
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903155370
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 2.6 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 254,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A "wonderfully understated novel....(showing) how difficult it was in interwar Britain to escape the expectations of class and upbringing." -- Isobel Montgomery, The Guardian, 27 March 2004

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Elaine Simpson-long TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 May 2004
Format: Paperback
I make no apologies for being a huge fan of the Persephone publishing house as time after time they reprint books long lost and forgotten and time after time they come up with gems. This is another one - Lettice Cooper was the aunt of Jilly Cooper's husband Leo, and her introduction to this novel paints the picture of a fascinating woman. This story is quite simple, it is literally a day in the life of a house move and the thoughts and emotions of the family and characters that this affects. A house is to be demolished, an old way of life comes to an end, new flats are to be built in its place. Is this a good or a bad thing? Lettice Cooper's socialist instincts are very clear throughout the book but she does not belittle the sadness felt by those who lived and loved the house they are leaving. The mother, a selfish and self obsessed woman, finding it hard to come to terms with the end of a comfortable and cosseted life and forced to face up to reality, her stay at home daughter frightened of life in the real world, the son and his rather unsatisfactory marriage - all their thoughts and emotions are expressed throughout 24 hours. It is amazing how little each member of the family understands each other and how at odds they all seem to be and yet by the end of the day and the move, enlightenment and understanding has come in different ways to them all, and decisions made. A sharply written book with humour and understanding and yet another to add to the Persephone canon. To be recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By bookelephant on 1 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback
This is one of the Persephones that attracts a less consistently enthusiastic response, as evidenced by the relatively few reviews on this page. There are good reasons for this - but this is in no sense a condemnation of the book, which is fascinating, thought provoking, and (appropriately enough) moving. It is in part, I think, because though in some senses a very obvious period piece (the characters all talk abut the house move as "removing", and there is no question but that one has staff, or new hats for the new season) it is extraordinarily immediate and asks obvious questions of all of us in our own lives - and that is never too comfortable, is it?
So on the surface all that happens is that the Rhoda and her mother move out of the house where she and her siblings have all grown up, have a picnic lunch amongst the chaos and a supper with Rhoda's brother Maurice and his wife, who no-one really likes, while the selfless aunt fusses around helping and Rhoda wonders whether she can make a life of her own. But more seriously we are reminded how much we think we know about the people around us, and how wrong we usually are, and how even the most selfish monsters can be unexpectedly loving and vulnerable. But most of all, at least for me, it reminds us how holding on to the past can hold us back from the future and joys we cannot have without a bit of courage to step into the unknown. The result is disturbing for any sentimentalist, but it is at the same time inspiring - because it reminds us that it is never too late to change, to take risks, to move on.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By libriarsque on 8 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
I wish there were more novels by Lettice Cooper to be be had. Even her celebrated "National Provincial" is becoming more and more difficult to find, particularly in the US. But, fortunately for everyone, Persephone Books and Virago Modern Classics have reissued "The New House", which is my favorite, and Virago have also reissued "Fenny".

Lettice Cooper's writing is beautifully fluid and deceptively simple; her characters come alive with an economy of words, and she manages to engage the reader's interest in a way that is neither manipulative nor assaulting. Instead, one finds oneself turning the pages with a kind of serene pleasure, knowing oneself to be in the hands of a most elegant and subtle intellect.

If you like Anita Brookner and Penelope Lively and want to read a sort of forerunner, you'll love Lettice Cooper.
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By dorset patio on 28 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this for a course I went on at the Geffrye Musuem and really enjoyed reading it! I was surprised at that.....
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Simon Savidge Reads on 6 May 2010
Format: Paperback
I will start of by saying that I had instantly loved the premise of `The New House' hence why I picked it up. A single, and really rather stressful, day in the life of a family moving house in the years between wars, the reader popping into all of their minds as the day goes on. It doesn't sound complex and that's because it isn't some books are all about the subtlety and I thought this would be one such book, in many ways it is. We meet each of the Powell's either residing in Stone Hall or those who have come by for the day to provide help and support painting the full family picture both as it stands currently and giving insight into the past.

Natalie Powell the mother and matriarch of the family is finding the move and widowhood trying ( a description of her waking up and the realization her husband is gone is written beautifully) and downsizing more so especially as the land is being built over, though you wonder if they could really afford to stay there anyway. Rhoda is the long striving daughter who has refused marriage in order to stay with her mother and is becoming increasingly bothered by the situation (which is fair her mother is a nightmare) and concerned she may turn into her Aunt Ellen, a spinster who gave her life to her relatives rather than herself. Delia is the engaged sister who got away and Maurice the brother who married the rather cold Evelyn (I laughed at Maurice's thoughts on Evelyn's attitudes to sex). All the little intricacies of the family are brought to the fore as is their lifestyle and the `day to day-ness' of everything.

This should have been just my cup of tea and a delight to read and yet sadly it didn't really capture me.
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