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33 Reviews
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72 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marriage turned upside down
Dorothy Whipple is yet another unjustly forgotten woman writer of the 40s and 50s. Someone at a distance is the story of an ordinary marriage. Ellen is a little complacent, a little smug about the happiness of her life and the security of her relationship with her husband, Avery. Avery is just drifting along in his comfortable job and familiar home life. The catalyst for...
Published on 21 April 2001 by Lynette Baines

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3.0 out of 5 stars A book of it"s time
Rather a predictable event though well written and interesting take on events. The difference in attitude to divorce and separation then and now is starkly illustrated.
Published 1 month ago by CFJH Morris


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4.0 out of 5 stars A deserved re-publication, 1 Jan 2013
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A convincing novel with some excellent portraits: Dorothy Whipple created a monster in Louise. It's a novel of its time and accordingly a window into another world that seems distant from our own and and yet hints at features of our times: increased divorce rates and the entry of women into the peacetime workforce.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 18 Dec 2012
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K. Kerby (Tonbridge, Kent) - See all my reviews
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Wow, what a portrait of an English woman and her marriage. It is a deliciously compelling, exciting story that features the most seductive French temptress ever! It is charming, passionate, emotional and mesmerising all at once. It truly is a must read for anyone interested in the subtleties of trust, betrayal and hope. Also, as I've mentioned somewhere else, look at the website of this wonderful publisher, you will find a wealth of similarly amazing works of fiction. Buy it now!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful surprise, 12 Nov 2012
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Our Book Club choice chosen by a 30 something German girl. Expected to find it a tough read. However, it is brilliant.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful characters and story, 2 Oct 2012
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This was a great read. I found the very middle-class, post-war, home counties setting a bit strange at first but once I got past this I was simply absorbed in Whipple's story.
Her characters are so well-drawn - Louise, the cold manipulative French woman, Ellen, the good, loyal wife and Avery her weak husband who Louise sets out to snare. These are the central characters but we are also drawn into the lives of everyone; the small-town French life of Louise is brought alive by Whipple in her description of her parents and Paul, her previous lover, and his new wife.
There isn't a word out of place in Whipple's writing and the plot is beautifully paced keeping me absorbed and interested until the last paragraph.
I wouldn't normally mention the book itself but this Persephone classic is a lovely quality and beautifully presented.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsive Read, 26 Sep 2012
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hypnobear (north yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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This was my first introduction to Dorothy Whipple...and I am a complete convert. Thsi is a gripping tale of adultery, family disintegration, self sacrifice and love in its many forms (the love of a wife for ehr husband, adulterous love, parental love). My heart ached for Ellen and her children, especially Anne, whose ideas of love and trust are irrevocally damaged after her father's betrayal and defection with his cold French mistress. The characters are very '50s', so might at first glance seem 'buttoned up' and emotionally repressed, but as the book goes on their real feelingscome to the fore. I loved this book, and although I've only recently finished it, I would happily read it all over again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant tale, beautifully written, 6 Sep 2012
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I adored this book. I read it knowing the premis and yet still gasped out loud at the denoument. It is a delicately written book with artfully painted characters that are both of their time and completely modern. The plot is gripping without being melodramatic, everyone behaves impeccably throughout and yet you writhe in agony with the characters, feeling all those unspoken emotions.
I spent a long time after finishing this book thinking about the state of marriage and the lot of women.
A gem of a book, I shall certainly be re-reading it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Must read, 6 April 2010
A beautiful, simple, story beautifully written. Saying it's 'about relationships' doesn't do it justice. If you've ever loved and lost, or ever loved at all, this is a must-read book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I adore this book!, 28 July 2009
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I'd never heard of Dorothy Whipple until I came across her name in the book Diary of a Provincial Lady (another of my favourites). I've since read all of her books that I could get my hands on.
Whipple is not a 'great' writer in an intellectual sense, but she's a totally accessible one. Her characters jump off the page and you feel that you know them within the space of just a few chapters. There's something real about her writing that takes your breath away - it's almost like watching a film inside your head.
This story of the disintegration of a solid marriage, thanks to the machinations of another woman, is completely compelling. The ending is a bit pat and somewhat sentimental, but hugely satisfying for the reader. Recommended.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the nastiest interlopers in fiction., 21 Mar 2012
Another really unputdownable novel from Dorothy Whipple. The steady disintegration of a seemingly happy family due to the machinations of the young French woman, who finds herself among them, is almost unbearable. Louise rivals Becky Sharp and Scarlett O'Hara in her pursuit of her own interests and I found her more sinister than either. The episodes in France with her long suffering parents were very well written and believable. How I longed for someone to put her in her place, but of course life is not like that and although Louise's nature becomes transparent to all by the end of the novel, her life continues on her terms.
I identified very much with Ellen, who adores her home and family. The author hints subtly that her husband is not all he could be, but the inevitable crash is almost sickening in its impact. My reason for giving 4 not 5 stars is my disappointment at the ending. I suppose as a modern reader I wanted to see Ellen moving on with her new life and not tied to the past and her broken husband.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars is this the best Persephone ever?, 28 Jan 2011
This review is from: Someone at a Distance (Paperback)
And can I also say that the cover of the 2008 Persephone Classic edition is absolutely beautiful!
To me, Dorothy Whipple is worth a wilderness of Virginia Woolves. This is her last and surely her finest novel - even better than 'They Were Sisters', much as I love that. All her characters evoke some sympathy, even Louise, because her upbringing has offered her very few real choices. There are many young women like Louise around today, who frankly think of nothing but their own wishes, but who today are not constrained by the mores of a small town. And there are also lots of blameless middle-aged women like Ellen who are brutally abandoned.
Two passages actually made me feel that I was in the presence of greatness - first, when Ellen and her husband leave Louise alone in their 'defenceless' home and she methodically goes through it, and then the long sequence where Ellen thinks she is falling to pieces. Given that her marriage is destroyed, what is she to do with her life?
Well, she rallies. She doesn't commit suicide or take to the bottle or seek revenge like the women in 'The First Wives' Club'. And what about the ending? A lesser novelist would have had her pair off with John Bennett, but this novelist knows that it isn't so simple; love cannot be forced. I think the ending is unexpected, but satisfying; the bond between Avery and Ellen is too strong ever to be completely broken, but it is never going to be glad confident morning again, and if they come back together it is going to be on her terms.
Of course today there would be much less condemnation of Avery and Louise's affair. The middle-aged wife would be ignored and forgotten; that is why this novel is timeless. And the identity of the 'someone at a distance'? That is Paul.
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Someone at a Distance
Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple (Paperback - 22 Mar 1999)
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