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Charlotte Austen (Melbourne, Australia)

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Provincial Daughter (Virago Modern Classics)
Provincial Daughter (Virago Modern Classics)
by R.M. Dashwood
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Provincial lady's daughter, 12 April 2003
E M Delafield's Provincial Lady books are among my favourite books, so I couldn't resist this book written by Delafield's daughter. It is a gentle homage to the original books, written in a similar style and with the same self-deprecating humour. I laughed out loud several times at the trials of a 50's housewife in an English village. Nostalgia with a timeless quality. Many of the observations and situations are still relevant today.

Lettice Delmer
Lettice Delmer
by Susan Miles
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A life in verse, 13 Feb. 2003
This review is from: Lettice Delmer (Paperback)
Lettice Delmer is a novel in verse, but don't be put off! It's very accessible and tells a fascinating story of a thwarted life. This is the story of how one kind action can result in devastating consequences. Dr Delmer's wife visits young women in a Special Hospital (for women with venereal disease and unmarried mothers), and is persuaded to employ one of the women as her maid when she leaves the hospital. Flora Tort and her son arrive, but the arrangement is not a success, marred by awkwardness and resentment on both sides. The daughter of the house is Lettice, who has led a sheltered life, and has no expectations for her life beyond marriage (the book begins in 1912). Lettice's hopes are gradually disappointed. The young man she thought she would marry, falls in love with someone else; her father dies and her mother becomes an invalid; she moves to London but finds herself drifting. She becomes pregnant after a disastrous evening with a friend of her brother's and has an abortion. Lettice eventually finds a kind of redemption after she has cut herself off from her family and friends who try to help her. The story is certainly grim, but I found it fascinating as a portrait of a woman who is unprepared for life and has to learn to accept herself and others as they are.

Minnie's Room:  The Peacetime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes
Minnie's Room: The Peacetime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes
by Mollie Panter-Downes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.00

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Middle class blues, 13 Feb. 2003
Mollie Panter-Downes' stories show the decline of the middle classes in Britain after WWII. Her stories show the effects of the social and economic changes the war brought, the problem of getting servants, the hardships of being on a fixed income, the falling standards of young people who had experienced more freedom and responsibility than their parents could ever have dreamed of.They are honest yet unsentimental stories of people who suddenly don't fit in. In "The exiles", Colonel and Mrs Stanbury decide to emigrate to an outpost of "Empire" in the hope that they can keep up their position in society as they are no longer able to do at home. In "Minnie's room", the Sothern family are devastated when their cook, Minnie, fulfills her dreams of leaving service and having a room of her own. The story says a lot about the arrogant assumptions of the family in their attitude to Minnie and what they see as her betrayal. These stories are beautifully written, they were first published in the New Yorker in the 1950's, and they recreate an England that has gone forever.

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