Princes in the Land
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Top Customer Reviews
It is about what life makes out of Patricia. How she relinquishes her desires for her husband and then her three children. She learns, or she feels forced, to change her life for her family. To buckle under and do what is expected of her.
The tragedy lies in the fact that, by the end of the book, she has lost touch with her husband and her children, into who she puts so much of her energy, ultimately disappoint her. Not one of them really knows who she is, or in fact, know anything about her at all. Having always given herself up for her children they have not come to know her as anything other than, Mother. In the last pages of the book she realises that she must be herself again and get some of her life back now for herself.
It's a touching novel, set in Oxford and the Oxfordshire countryside, which is beautifully evoked. It's a good read, just what you'd expect from Persephone I'd say!
The central character, Patricia, is vivid, intelligent in a totally untrained way, and passionately horsey. She falls in love with and marries an academic from a poor background and is transported into a world in which she is completely lost. Her children form a focus about which she can rebuild herself a new satisfying life - very different from the old, but nonetheless contended. She abadons the self she knew and becomes a new, different person - much more comfortable for those around her perhaps, but not the person who really lives within her. The tragedy of the book lies in the acknowledgement of how little one can know even those one loves best - even when you make them the focus of your life. Patricia devotes herself to her children, and thinks she knows them from the little outcroppings of personality which she gets to see - forgetting, that like her, a very different person may be inside to the person that one sees. As a result she becomes almost accidentially alienated from her eldest son, tries to push her daughter into a life completely different from that which the daughter actuall wants - and is left when they are gone not quite sure what all her effort was for. The book is in that sense a very clear warning against the dangers of living for and through others - and if left at that might be rather downbeat. However Patricia re-finds herself and reminds us that the human spirit is very resilient - and that the true self which we cannot be dened however deep we try to bury it, and however nearly we succeed.
Patricia is an interesting character in the early chapters and comes over as an intelligent person in contrast to her sister Angela. I applauded her for defying her mother to marry the man of her choice - but was much disappointed by her attitude when her son August (named after a horse - his wife sensibly calls him David) marries the girl of HIS choice. She and her husband don't seem very upset by the fact that he has driven a young woman to attempt suicide or very interested in their grandchild. Their distress is all because he has married into a family which uses vulgar words like 'pardon' or 'serviette'. He has 'done a hideous thing', Patricia feels. I can think of many more hideous things he could have done!
Dorothy Whipple handled this theme so much better.
Several years pass and Patricia marries Hugh Lindsay, a student from a poor background, much to the disgust of her mother who wanted Patricia to marry someone of her own class. Patricia and Hugh have three children, August, Giles and Nicola - and as they grow older they begin to disappoint Patricia as much as she had disappointed her own mother.
This novel has very little plot but raises a lot of interesting issues including marriage, parent/child relationships and class differences. The book itself is well-written and I liked the setting and the time period, but unfortunately I didn't enjoy it much at all.
The biggest problem I had with this book was the characters. I don't always need to like the characters to be able to enjoy a book, but in this case I think it would have made a big difference if there had been just one person I had been able to identify with and care about. Patricia and her mother both seemed to be complete snobs. Patricia's attitude towards her daughter-in-law, Gwen, is particularly nasty and based purely on the fact that she thinks Gwen's family are `common'.Read more ›