2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Time of emotional discovery,
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This review is from: The Tortoise And The Hare (VMC) (Paperback)
Unlike others, I have no objection to the cover illustration; I fear the title is off-putting. However, readers would certainly miss out on one of the most outstanding novels of the post war period if they were influenced by either of these factors.
My copy has an introduction by Hilary Mantel, which begins 'Apart from war, what could be more interesting than a marriage?' and ends with 'What the author offers us does not date; descriptive grace and narrative pulse, dry humour and moral discrimination, tempered elegance and emotional force'.
I would like to say that although this is correct, it is also fair to add that by nature of the era and the subject matter (dissolution of a marriage in the fifties), the novel is still 'old fashioned' and slow paced - but I couldn't put it down!
This is a sad but immensely powerful story of a submissive, gullible, upper class gentle lady who is slowly losing her successful husband to an older, stout, slightly uncouth but clever 'Tweedy' country woman. In fifties format, the husband's needs alter and the wife fails to recognize this or adapt. You truly feel like shaking her; especially as the woman he turns to changes from cringe-worthy to charasmatic before her very eyes!
This book is superbly written; full of wit and unforgettable images. The characters are perceptually drawn and the child observations are outstanding. Elizabeth Jenkins' descriptions of the countryside are both colourful and exact. The Tortoise and the Hare is an excellent study of a society and its nuances relating to the English upper class and will appeal to many, especially Jane Austen fans. And as Hilary Mantel says, 'The surfaces of this story, as well as its depth, will give the reader much pleasure.