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They Knew Mr.Knight [Paperback]

Dorothy Whipple , Terence Handley , Christopher Beauman
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
Price: 14.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Persephone Books Ltd (22 Sep 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903155088
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903155080
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 267,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


A Book Society Choice, shortlisted for the Femina-Vie Heureuse Prize, the second Dorothy Whipple novel we publish is also wonderfully well-written in a clear and straightforward style; yet 'this real treat' ("Sunday Telegraph") is far more subtle than it at first appears. The Blakes are an ordinary family: Celia looks after the house and Thomas works at the family engineering business in Leicester. The book begins when he meets Mr Knight, a financier as crooked as any on the front pages of our newspapers nowadays; and tracks his and his family's swift climb and fall.Part of the cause of the ensuing tragedy is Celia's innocence - blinkered by domesticity, she and her children are the 'victim of the turbulence of the outside world' (Postscript); but finally, through 'quiet tenacity and the refusal to let go of certain precious things, goodness does win out' (Afterword). And the "TLS" wrote: 'The portraits in the book are fired by Mrs Whipple's article of faith - the supreme importance of people.'

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Celia herself was not so happy in the drawing-room type of existence now thrust upon her. She missed the simple, busy life she had lived in the Grove. She missed her kitchen and her cooking, and she was cut off from the back door, which opened, it had always seemed to her on another aspect of life altogether. She could no longer comfort the coal man with a hot drink on a cold day or ask the vegetable woman in to get warm or rest a little....She pursued another form of charity now. She sat on committees and undertook to sell tickets for innumerable affairs. But the committees were often very tedious and she was not a good ticket-seller. She would say: 'Will you buy a ticket for so-and-so?' and then add: 'But don't if you don't really want one'....Celia disposed of most of her tickets herself......

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Knight-time 26 Feb 2004
By Simon Thomas VINE VOICE
This book was recommended to me by a band of people, each of whom has opinions I deeply trust when it comes to books.
And I wasn't disappointed.
The Blake family live in an unspectacular house in an unspectacular road, and Thomas Blake has a... you guessed it, unspectacular job.
And then Mr. Knight, financier extraordinaire, comes onto the horizon, and helps the Blake family move up in the world - literally, into a fancier house, fancier road and fancier lifestyle. Thomas is delighted, but Celia, his wife, is less zealous. The reader, through the combined hints of Celia's doubts and Whipple's clever narrative, is rightly suspicious of Knight.
To see the changes in the Blake family is often sad, but Whipple enlivens this novel with wit throughout.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Devil and the Blake family 20 Feb 2001
By Lynette Baines VINE VOICE
Dorothy Whipple is, for me, the greatest rediscovery Persephone have made since they began reprinting unjustly forgotten books a couple of years ago. They knew Mr Knight is the story of the Blake family, and their gradual moral and financial downfall after they become involved with the financier, Mr Knight. The seduction begins on the first page, when Thomas Blake wakes with dissatisfaction at the fact that he must face another day in the engineering works his father sold- as he sees it, his inheritance has been denied him. He meets Mr Knight, and the financier advises him with investments. Gradually, most of the family are drawn into the fringes of Mr Knight's world. The advice he gives Thomas enables him to buy back the works, his daughter is able to realise her social ambitions, his son goes to a better school. Even his sensible wife, Celia, becomes entangled when she sees the prospect of buying the house she's always wanted. Their moral decline is subtly described, as Thomas becomes more entangled in Mr Knight's web. Dorothy Whipple shows how very easy it is to take the first step towards the precipice, and how long it can take to recover from the consequences.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pact with the Devil 20 July 2009
It's neck and neck as to whether this is my absolutely favourite Dorothy Whipple, or should it be Someone at a Distance? Anyway, this is DW at her finest.
Mr Knight is the seductive financier who comes into the lives of a very ordinary Midlands family after a chance encounter on a train. And gradually, his influence corrupts their goodness. Even Celia, the mother - content with her happy family and her modest house and garden and so less enthralled by the powerful Mr K - even Celia has a weak spot, because the big old country house (bought with tainted money) is so exactly the right milieu for her and she loves it. (As ever, DW can describe a house or a room so that you can feel the fabrics of the sofa or curtains, see the colours, smell the flowers!)
Drip, drip, drip, Mr Knight and his lucre eat away at family relationships, honesty, everything that is good, and there is a terrible tension as you see it all disintegrating.
A brilliant read. If this review doesn't do it justice, it's because I've been up until 3am unable to put it down!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars nothing new under the sun 27 Jan 2011
Dickens in 'Little Dorrit' showed how people fawn on the noxious Mr Merdle. Dorothy Whipple in 1934 showed people fawning on the odious Mr Knight. And some of us are still doing it! Mr Knight is not at all different from the present-day bankers who live in gross luxury, play games with other people's money and are driving the world into despair. It's not quite my favourite Dorothy Whipple novel, but what a clear sense of values she has and how little certain things have changed!
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