Housebound- Winifred Peck

This novel is set during World War Two and it follows the adventures of a ‘lady’ trying to do the house work herself. She tries to maintain the same standard (to please her husband) as when she had two maids – there is many a comic mishap. Like when she is trying to set the breakfast table (which requires so many things) and the coffee boils over the bacon and toast.

Here is the Persephone (well a bit of it)  information …

Penelope Fitzgerald wrote: ‘If I could have back one of the many Winifred Peck titles I once possessed I would choose House-Bound. The story never moves out of middle-class Edinburgh; the satire on genteel living, though, is always kept in relation to the vast severance and waste of the war beyond. The book opens with a grand comic sweep as the ladies come empty-handed away from the registry office where they have learned that they can no longer be “suited” and in future will have to manage their own unmanageable homes. There are coal fires, kitchen ranges and intractable husbands; Rose is not quite sure whether you need soap to wash potatoes. Her struggle continues on several fronts, but not always in terms of comedy. To be house-bound is to be “tethered to a collection of all the extinct memories… with which they had grown up… how are we all to get out?” I remember it as a novel by a romantic who was as sharp as a needle, too sharp to deceive herself.’

While learning how to maintain a house, Rose thinks about what being house-bound means in a literal and figurative sense. She feels that her husband and her difficult daughter are both house-bound emotionally. The daughter, Flora, is quite a challenge. A melodrama queen whose version of her childhood has her parents (mother and step-father) plotting to harm her at every opportunity. There is a lovely American doctor who first steps in to help Rose with her house keeping dilemma’s and then coincidently Flora is his patient. This novel is set during the war and inevitably there is tragedy, but it ends with hope.

This novel is very much of it’s time and place and probably won’t appeal to a general audience, but I’m glad I’ve read it. I enjoyed Rose’s inner-monologue as she grappled with various house-hold duties.

Here are some other reviews …

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