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Customer Review

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful reprint. More please...., 7 April 2009
This review is from: Nightingale Wood (VMC) (Paperback)
Nightingale Wood is a kind of buffer state outside the village; a handy place for confrontational or dramatic meetings, but most of the action takes place in, and the outside world is seen through the prism of, the Withers' household in Essex, where the newly widowed daughter-in-law Viola is shortly to arrive and take up residence. The patriarchical Mr Withers could be said, in Siegfried Sassoon's words, "to hunt a bitch pack" as there are two unmarried daughters, his wife, and three women in the kitchen, and only the god-like chauffeur Saxon to redress the balance. One further "character" haunts the book, like a spectre at the feast, and that is Money. The ups and downs of Mr Withers's financial affairs govern the daily happiness at The Eagles and affect the atmosphere crucially. He is like a marionette whose puppeteer is £sd.

"never could be sure what his money was up to........ he prowled uneasily after it in the financial columns of the Press".

"Mr. Withers's heart was fairly light as he set out for a walk ....... it was a fine day, the money was better..."

"Mr Withers, because the money had again rallied, was on top of the world. He showed it by suddenly giving the four women a pound each."

"It is a beautiful sight, Victor's money. It grows: it runs healthily round the country like a sound bloodstream: it never suffers from the palpitations and nerve storms that affect Mr. Withers's money".

It could be said that worrying about his money has robbed Mr Withers of many simple pleasures, and he acts in an emotional vacuum, completely unaware of the concerns and desires of the other women under his roof, except to deny and control them. In the main, they manage to subvert his plans, and each of the three young women achieves what she wants out of life despite his intervention. Stella Gibbons writes with delicate irony and a wry comic touch; having read of Mr Withers's combover on page 1, it is quite hard to take him seriously after that. A recurring motif after the Infirmary Ball, as the ladies prepare for bed, is the decreasing cost of their face cream........ Phyllis's at 6/6 a pot, Tina's at 2/6, while Viola "was already dreaming, with her face covered with a cream at sixpence a tube and a dance programme under her pillow".

If any publishers are out there wondering which seam to mine next, consider the OOP novels of Stella Gibbons.
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Location: London, U.K.

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