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The House In South Road Paperback – 2 Sep 2004
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Destined to join the ranks of Laurie Lee's, Helen Forrester's and William Woodruff's autobiographical classics of the 20th Century, THE HOUSE IN SOUTH ROAD evokes in marvellously vivid colours, the ordinary story of an extraordinary working-class woman's life.
About the Author
Now deceased, Joyce Storey won the Raymond Williams Memorial Award for OUR JOYCE and JOYCE'S WAR when they were first published by Virago. The editor, Pat Thorne is her daughter.
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Her decription, honsety and the themes of how life was and indeed changed, for working class women in Britain, throughout the 20th Century is delightfully evocative.
The relationship with her odd, damaged and unfeeling Mother is highlighted as coming from social pressures she absorbed and the bitterness they raised, this theme is parelleled in Joyce's Husband and his attitude towards her and their deepingning divides. Joyce dabbles with independance and feminism in different guises down the years and works hard to find herself kicking always agaisnt social pressures which try to deny her in treading her own path. The story is hopeful and embittered and it is little wonder she was encouraged to publish her work. Anyone interested in British social history will lap this up.
It is also remarkable in it's themes of developing and changing attitudes towards women. I really would have liked to hear this book discussed with the Author on Radio 4, her writng reveals the extrodinary in the ordianry guise.
Her stoicism throughout her life developed from an early age in the sanatorium where she learned to survive being parted from her parents.
Her self-reliance enabled her to get through the weariness of total domesticity and being so unappreciated by her husband. What a waste of an individual who was capable of so much more and who had no outlet for her intellectual ability. We are not given an insight into what her husband concealed from her in his bureau for so long - all must have been revealed after his death. The ending is so sad, not only for Joyce's blindness, horrific for one with such reading and writing skills, but also for her husband who missed out on the companionship and love ,he could have had with his wife if only he had been of a different personality.
Many readers will find aspects of Joyce's upbringing and lack of opportunity very similar to their own - I know I did.
It would be wonderful if a cassette or DVD could be made, as I have a friend whose poor sight means she cannot read easily. She is Bristol born and bred like me. Think about it - those of 75 and over are the very ones who would love to have this facility - because the sight can often be questionable at that age.
A brilliant read.
Her writing style is very enjoyable, but the book left me wanting answers: young brother Cliff's name is mentioned three times, but other than that he doesn't feature in the story at all. What happened to him? Dad blamed Joyce for not telling him about the (supposed) goings-on between her Mum and the smooth-talking Irishman - but we're never told what form their misbehaviour took or whether there were any consequences.
Could the answers have been lost in the editing? Would it be worthwhile looking out for the original versions?
This is a book I shall have to read again, in case I missed something.
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