4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 13 February 2003
Lettice Delmer is a novel in verse, but don't be put off! It's very accessible and tells a fascinating story of a thwarted life. This is the story of how one kind action can result in devastating consequences. Dr Delmer's wife visits young women in a Special Hospital (for women with venereal disease and unmarried mothers), and is persuaded to employ one of the women as her maid when she leaves the hospital. Flora Tort and her son arrive, but the arrangement is not a success, marred by awkwardness and resentment on both sides. The daughter of the house is Lettice, who has led a sheltered life, and has no expectations for her life beyond marriage (the book begins in 1912). Lettice's hopes are gradually disappointed. The young man she thought she would marry, falls in love with someone else; her father dies and her mother becomes an invalid; she moves to London but finds herself drifting. She becomes pregnant after a disastrous evening with a friend of her brother's and has an abortion. Lettice eventually finds a kind of redemption after she has cut herself off from her family and friends who try to help her. The story is certainly grim, but I found it fascinating as a portrait of a woman who is unprepared for life and has to learn to accept herself and others as they are.