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Customer Review

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never mind the cover - why are the rest of her novels out of print?, 3 Oct. 2010
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This review is from: The Tortoise And The Hare (VMC) (Paperback)
I lost most of night's sleep reading this wonderful novel. After a succession of Barbara Pym's (and don't get me wrong, I love them too) this felt like steak after ice-cream. Whereas Pym explores her characters and their social milieu largely through dialogue Jenkins analyses the thought processes of her heroine from within.

Imogen does allow herself to be defeated but it is a lucky person who has never experienced the kind of subtle manipulation she is subjected to, and her whole life and particularly her relationship with her husband, has trained her to this vulnerability. Neither her temperament nor her experience has given her any chance to learn how to defend herself but it is clear at the end of the novel that she has a chance to begin to grow into independence and is likely to be set off on that path by a small boy who has experienced and faced the emotional isolation that she has endured without recognising it and is making his own bid for freedom and fufilment.

Although it is is a profoundly satisfying novel in itself it sets up a wonderful set of possibilities for a sequel and, not having one, the reader is sent off on a trail of "what ifs" in the subsequent lives of the characters, perhaps most strongly the inevitable come-upance lurking in the future of the awful Evelyn when the gilt wears off the gingerbread of his second marriage and he finds himself more deeply entapped than he can ever imagine. It's not without perception that one of his friends remarks that the second Mrs Gresham will have a very different view of the sanctity of marriage, particularly her own, than her husband has shown in his easy betrayal of his first wife. Imogen's future is wide with possibility but her former husband's is closing around him like a steel cage and one largely of his own making having met and married his match in selfishness.

Having finished this one I rushed off to the internet to buy the rest of Elizabeth Jenkins' fiction only to be astonished that none of them seem to be easily and cheaply available - why are Virago and Persephone not rushing the rest of her oevre into print?

Do read this very perceptive and engrossing book and if you like it too - clamour for more.
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