Top positive review
23 people found this helpful
One of her best
on 15 July 2009
A lovely Dorothy Whipple, published in 1932 and alas, difficult to get hold of. (What a pity it hasn't been re-published by Persephone but maybe they will get around to it eventually. I'd have chosen it over Whipple's High Wages which they are publishing later this year.)
Louisa is the mother of a large, grown-up family and this is the rambling tale of their vicissitudes from just before WW1 into the 1920s: marital infidelity, illegitimate babies, divorce, autocratic parents and rebellious off-spring. As ever, Whipple's characters are utterly convincing; Louisa is a loving matriarch, (only 56 at the start of the book!) shockable but unshakeable; there is Kate, the embittered unmarried mother, rendered frigid by public opinion; Ambrose, pompous and overbearing, wanting to be loved but never understanding why he isn't lovable; and his bored wife Letty, who married at a time when there few options for women. Whipple does a brilliant job showing how WW1 changes their lives and attitudes: 'The war had blown most people's ideas sky-high, and the pieces had not yet come down. When they did come down, they would never fit together again as they had done before the war.'
Greenbanks is the name of Louisa's solid, old-fashioned family house. And I love the way Whipple describes domestic interiors: a posy of flowers in a lustre jug, an embroidered bedspread. This is one of her best, highly recommended.