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Interesting idea but generally shallow characters
on 2 March 2011
Oh dear, I seem to be in the minority here! Until now I have loved all of the Persephone republications that I have read, but I didn't care so much for this short novella.
The idea of a bride (Dolly Thatcham) who really shouldn't be marrying the man she is about to wed is interesting, but we don't actually meet Dolly until about halfway through the book. After this point the `story' becomes more absorbing and there is much to glean from beneath the surface that is merely hinted at. Until then though we are presented with an array of people, mainly relatives who have gathered at the house before the wedding, most of whom feel more like caricatures than real people. The mother of the bride is exaggeratedly irritating, but she does at least provide moments of amusement and is one of the few characters you feel you are beginning to know. The others are more like passing strangers apart from Dolly, and the rather strange Joseph who had been close to her the previous summer before she met Owen and who, after the wedding, when the bride and groom have left, makes a startling revelation. That it doesn't seem possible in terms of timing and hence doesn't ring true makes its inclusion all the more puzzling.
Apart from some descriptive passages, I found the writing style uninspiring, but the main cause of my disappointment was, I think, the characters. Nevertheless, I'm pleased I read it, but I wouldn't rush to recommend it. There are plenty of other Persephone gems that are, in view, more endearing and worthwhile - the short story collection Good Evening, Mrs Craven by Mollie Panter-Downes, for instance, or Someone at a Distance, or Miss Buncle's Book, a delight from start to finish.