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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Whipple, 30 Sep 2009
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This review is from: High Wages (Paperback)
'Experience doth take dreadfully high wages but she teacheth like none other.'
This is one of Whipple's earlier books, published in 1930, and set just before and after World War I. Not as powerful as later works like Someone At A Distance but still a very engaging, old-fashioned read full of Whipple's characteristic shrewd observation. Jane is a parentless girl, full of ambition, who rises from behind the counter of an old-fashioned draper's store to own her own gown shop. Whipple's depiction of a northern mill-town and its 'characters' is quite wonderful and she is clearly writing from her own northern background. Readers who know Manchester today will be fascinated by Jane's shopping excursion to the city and the description of Kendal's up-to-the-minute window displays circa 1913.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 28 Nov 2009
This review is from: High Wages (Paperback)
This is the second Dorothy Whipple book I have read, the first being The Priory, which I thought was OK, but would not rave over. I enjoyed this book much more. Not a lot happens, but for those who like a social history side to their novels, it is fascinating, and gives a slice of shopping history that may be unfamiliar to most. I also liked the fact that the characters were believable, neither sinners nor saints, but people who tried to do their best in the circumstances. Ideal to curl up with in front of the fire on a cold winter's night!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely - but not the best of the Whipples ..., 25 Nov 2009
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bookelephant (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: High Wages (Paperback)
I agree totally with the previous reviewer who says that this is not as powerful a book as some of Dorothy Whipple's later work. It is interesting as an early book, and beautifully written, with the most fascinating insights into the very important subject of the history of shopping (quite an interesting comparison with Zola's "Ladies Paradise" could be made). But the sense of "moral groundedness" which permeates her later work (and is either loved or loathed by readers) is not really present. Jane, an admirable feminist icon in her thirst for education and independence, finds her longing for something higher than is offered by her everyday life answered in a not uncommon form - the attractions of a married man; and does not reject this route out of hand, as one might expect of a Whipple heroine. Those who find Whipple's moral aspect repellant (as the founders of Virago did) might well find this book more, rather than less, enjoyable as a result - certainly Jane rings very true to life. For myself, as an unreconstructed Whipple-ite I found it a little disconcerting - but none the less enjoyable!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly engaging, 6 Nov 2011
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Linda (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: High Wages (Paperback)
An absolutely delightful book which I read in two days. This is indeed a little more lightweight than some of Dorothy Whipple's other books but non the worse for it - afterall it would be pretty sad if they were all the same. This reminded me a little of J B Priestley's Bright Day (another great favourite of mine) and gives a wonderful insight into a very different time and place. As to the hardworking heroine - she's a great tonic during a sleepless night!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dorothy Whipple Appreciation Club, 23 Dec 2009
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This review is from: High Wages (Paperback)
We have now set up a Dorothy Whipple Appreciation Club at work and have been delighted that some of her other books have recently been reprinted. As a commentator of women, their lives, their rights and the hypocracy of middle~class society in Northern England, we do not believe that there is anyone better. Beautifully written, funny and sensuous, her books are both modern and encaptivating ~ as was this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Story of a young woman stuggling to make her way, 27 May 2007
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Marshall Lord (Whitehaven, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: High Wages (Paperback)
The title of this book is taken from the old saying

"Experience doth take dreadfully high wages, but she teaches like none other."

Tells the story of Jane Carter. Her mother had died when she was little and her father first remarried and then also died. Jane's stepmother decries the "fancy schools" to which her parents had sent her, and insists that she goes out to work.

Jane came to the market town of Tidsley for an afternoon, saw a job in a draper's shop advertised which includes "live-in" accomodation, and jumps at the opportunity both the earn a living and escape from her stepmother's home. At first her reward for initiative and hard work is to be cheated out of part of her earnings. However, Jane endears herself to her customers and eventually manages to set up in business for herself.

Also included in the story is her re-introduction to the world of literature, and a romantic triangle - or rather in this case, a romantic pentagon - which includes the husband of a local heiress, and the library assistant who has introduced Jane to the beauty of the written word but has what appears at first to be an unrequited fascination with her own beauty.

The story was written in 1930, is set in the early years of the 20th Century including the period of the first world war. It is an interesting social portrait of that period.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a girl, a town and its shops in early 20th century, 11 Oct 2013
This review is from: High Wages (Paperback)
A good unsentimental picture of small town England around WWI. Full of fascinating detail about shops, clothes and class-attitudes. Feminist without being aggressive. Very beautifully produced by Persephone - clear print, pretty endpapers and bookmark.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully evocative, 26 April 2012
This review is from: High Wages (Paperback)
This book paints a picture of a different time, place and moral landscape. I did not think it equaled They Were Sisters, but it kept me reading and I loved the two women who find solace and purpose in each other and their business. Whipple does snobs very well, but also decent and reasonable people, making the most of their lives. She is good at building up suspense, near the end I was fretting that Jane would lose the shop. She also always appreciates the good and simple things in life, space of ones own, friendship, enough to eat, nature and a nice cup of tea. Wonderful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Whipple, 9 July 2009
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This review is from: High Wages (Hardcover)
One of Whipple's earlier books, pub. in 1930, and set just before and after World War I. Not as powerful as later work like Someone At A Distance, but still a very engaging, old-fashioned read full of Whipple's characteristic shrewd observation. Jane is a parentless girl, full of ambition, who rises from behind the counter of an old-fashioned draper's store to own her own gown shop. Whipple's depiction of a northern milltown and its 'characters' is quite wonderful and she is clearly writing from her own northern background. Readers who know Manchester today will be fascinated by Jane's shopping excursion to the city and the description of Kendal's up-to-the-minute window displays circa 1913. Well worth reading if you can get hold of a second-hand copy; if you can't, Persephone Books are re-publishing it soon.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Small scale but a compelling read, 11 Sep 2011
This review is from: High Wages (Paperback)
Shorter and less ambitious than some of her later works, High Wages is, nonetheless a delight. It provides a sharp and salutary insight into the world of the shopgirl in the early years of the twentieth century. How many of us, I wonder, knew that shopgirls often 'lived in' and not only worked for inordinately long hours but also were kept short of food by their stingy employers. Jane, gifted and far sighted and akin to Winifred Holtby's heroine, Sarah Burton, in South Riding, soon realizes her ambition to escape from being a habadashery assistant (where sales for low-cost items mean pitiful commission) to owning her own shop which specialises in the new ready-to-wear fashion. This is acutely observed social history at its best, peppered with Whipple's sharp wit. Jane shudders at one customer who refers to her underwear as 'neathies'.The portrayal of a small and emotionally suffocating Northern mill town is masterly. Although many of the minor characters are well drawn,the emotional drama is less convicing than in some of Whipple's more mature work. Jane's relationships with Noel and Wilfred fail to convince and the plot, which is insubstantial, creaks just a little. However, this is a compelling read and thoroughly recommended.
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High Wages
High Wages by Jane Brocket (Paperback - 22 Oct 2009)
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