- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Persephone Books Ltd (22 Mar. 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1903155371
- ISBN-13: 978-1903155370
- Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 2.6 x 19.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 802,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The New House Paperback – 22 Mar 2004
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A "wonderfully understated novel....(showing) how difficult it was in interwar Britain to escape the expectations of class and upbringing." -- Isobel Montgomery, The Guardian, 27 March 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
So on the surface all that happens is that the Rhoda and her mother move out of the house where she and her siblings have all grown up, have a picnic lunch amongst the chaos and a supper with Rhoda's brother Maurice and his wife, who no-one really likes, while the selfless aunt fusses around helping and Rhoda wonders whether she can make a life of her own. But more seriously we are reminded how much we think we know about the people around us, and how wrong we usually are, and how even the most selfish monsters can be unexpectedly loving and vulnerable. But most of all, at least for me, it reminds us how holding on to the past can hold us back from the future and joys we cannot have without a bit of courage to step into the unknown. The result is disturbing for any sentimentalist, but it is at the same time inspiring - because it reminds us that it is never too late to change, to take risks, to move on.
Lettice Cooper's writing is beautifully fluid and deceptively simple; her characters come alive with an economy of words, and she manages to engage the reader's interest in a way that is neither manipulative nor assaulting. Instead, one finds oneself turning the pages with a kind of serene pleasure, knowing oneself to be in the hands of a most elegant and subtle intellect.
If you like Anita Brookner and Penelope Lively and want to read a sort of forerunner, you'll love Lettice Cooper.
Natalie Powell the mother and matriarch of the family is finding the move and widowhood trying ( a description of her waking up and the realization her husband is gone is written beautifully) and downsizing more so especially as the land is being built over, though you wonder if they could really afford to stay there anyway. Rhoda is the long striving daughter who has refused marriage in order to stay with her mother and is becoming increasingly bothered by the situation (which is fair her mother is a nightmare) and concerned she may turn into her Aunt Ellen, a spinster who gave her life to her relatives rather than herself. Delia is the engaged sister who got away and Maurice the brother who married the rather cold Evelyn (I laughed at Maurice's thoughts on Evelyn's attitudes to sex). All the little intricacies of the family are brought to the fore as is their lifestyle and the `day to day-ness' of everything.
This should have been just my cup of tea and a delight to read and yet sadly it didn't really capture me.Read more ›