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on 8 April 2015
Dorothy Whipple born in Blackburn Lancashire wrote this and other books. I bought the book as a present and as it arrived at my home I naturally inspected it for any defects before wrapping it up in fancy gift paper ready to pass on. I'm pleased to say the book arrived timeously and in excellent condition.
I gave a passing glance at a sentence or two written by a reviewer. One said, 'A deceptively simple plot.' The reviewer then elaborated by explaining that a young French girl, who was bored with her existence, whilst living in a tiny French village, answers an advertisement placed in a newspaper by an elderly lady. The lady was living alone in a large house in England and wanted some company.
It happened that the lady also spoke rusty French and thought it would be a good idea to employ a French speaking person. Once the young mademoiselle establishes herself within the English lady's household, the pace of events quickens.
Having read this introduction, I suddenly found that I had become enchanted by some literary spell that had been cast by the authoress. There was only one way that I could break the spell and that was to read the book to it's end.
Dorothy Whipple writes in a captivating style. One example of her work is when she describes the French girl's family eating bowls of soup. The girl's father breaks his piece of bread into small pieces and then drops them into his soup. She writes, 'They bobbed and floated like ducks on a pond.' I really liked that expression and there are many more of a similar vein within the pages of the book.
The French girl goes on to make a conquest of the married son of her elderly employer but in so doing opens up a Pandora's box. Anyone who reads this story will not be disappointed with the result. I highly recommend Dorothy Whipple's 'Someone at a Distance' and am now hoping to acquire more of her work.
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on 2 October 2012
This was a great read. I found the very middle-class, post-war, home counties setting a bit strange at first but once I got past this I was simply absorbed in Whipple's story.
Her characters are so well-drawn - Louise, the cold manipulative French woman, Ellen, the good, loyal wife and Avery her weak husband who Louise sets out to snare. These are the central characters but we are also drawn into the lives of everyone; the small-town French life of Louise is brought alive by Whipple in her description of her parents and Paul, her previous lover, and his new wife.
There isn't a word out of place in Whipple's writing and the plot is beautifully paced keeping me absorbed and interested until the last paragraph.
I wouldn't normally mention the book itself but this Persephone classic is a lovely quality and beautifully presented.
2 people found this helpful
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on 26 September 2012
This was my first introduction to Dorothy Whipple...and I am a complete convert. Thsi is a gripping tale of adultery, family disintegration, self sacrifice and love in its many forms (the love of a wife for ehr husband, adulterous love, parental love). My heart ached for Ellen and her children, especially Anne, whose ideas of love and trust are irrevocally damaged after her father's betrayal and defection with his cold French mistress. The characters are very '50s', so might at first glance seem 'buttoned up' and emotionally repressed, but as the book goes on their real feelingscome to the fore. I loved this book, and although I've only recently finished it, I would happily read it all over again.
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on 6 May 2014
Like other reviewers I was completely hooked by this book. It's so beguiling because the writing is almost artless and naive - just straightforward storytelling, creating such vivid images of Ellen, the warm but worn wife, her beloved garden and family. You could almost feel yourself wandering through her world. And although there's a very definite sense of time and place, the story feels timeless. I liked in particular, the snapshot of women at a time when they were on the cusp of gaining more control and power over their lives. Quietly devastating, utterly compelling.
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on 10 January 2014
This was a book club selection. My heart sank a bit when it was chosen, as a book written in the 1950s about the break down of a marriage didn't seem to promise the most exciting read. But what a wonderful surprise it turned out to be. It was truly gripping and not at all dated. A real page turner and kept you hooked to the end. Thoroughly recommend.
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on 6 September 2012
I adored this book. I read it knowing the premis and yet still gasped out loud at the denoument. It is a delicately written book with artfully painted characters that are both of their time and completely modern. The plot is gripping without being melodramatic, everyone behaves impeccably throughout and yet you writhe in agony with the characters, feeling all those unspoken emotions.
I spent a long time after finishing this book thinking about the state of marriage and the lot of women.
A gem of a book, I shall certainly be re-reading it.
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on 27 September 2014
This is a marvellous book. We chose it for the book group and everyone loved it, and was astonished that they'd never heard of it before. Set in the fifties, calmly and clearly written, it stays with you for a long time after. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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on 23 January 2016
My favourite book ever. A simple tale told beautifully. I thought I knew what was coming but turned those pages madly to find out - but reduced to tears in the end. Please read it.
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on 12 June 2013
This is the first book I read by Dorothy Whipple and I find it very appealing. I couldn't putit down, so absorbed I was by the North's story. Of course one has to contextualize the plot, but it was a delightful read, plausible and with a hopeful end.
2 people found this helpful
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on 4 March 2016
Excellent. A riveting read as every Whipple book is. Cannot think why I have never stumbled on this author before. Get it whilst you can.
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