Someone at a Distance – Dorothy Whipple


I’ve been continuing my Persephone reading feast. Someone at a Distance was my free classic. 

Here’s the blurb …

‘A very good novel indeed about the fragility and also the tenacity of love’ commented the Spectator recently about this 1953 novel by Dorothy Whipple, which was ignored fifty years ago because ‘editors are going mad for action and passion’ (as she was told by her publisher). But this last novel by a writer whose books had previously been bestsellers is outstandingly good by any standards. Apparently ‘a fairly ordinary tale about the destruction of a happy marriage’ (Nina Bawden in the Preface) yet ‘it makes compulsive reading’ in its description of an ordinary family (‘Ellen was that unfashionable creature, a happy housewife’) struck by disaster when the husband, in a moment of weak, mid-life vanity, runs off with a French girl. Dorothy Whipple is a superb stylist, with a calm intelligence in the tradition of Mrs Gaskell (both wrote in the Midlands and had similar preoccupations). ‘The prose is simple, the psychology spot on’ said the Telegraph, and John Sandoe Books commented: ‘We have all delighted in this unjustly forgotten novel; it is well written and compelling.’

The thing I noticed most in these days of common divorce was how no one not even Ellen think she is entitled to some of the family assessts. Alimony is offered and refused, but the house is his as are the publishing company and his share of the hosiary company.

The writing is beautiful and the characters are real living and breathing creatures. In some way English good manners brought about their downfall. Ellen should have made Louise leave even if she had no where else to go.

Here are some other reviews …

and a review at the Persephone forum

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