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Every Good Deed and Other Stories by Dorothy Whipple

Every Good Deed and Other Stories – Dorothy Whipple

I love Persephone books – I don’t think I have had a disappointing book yet.  For some reason I hadn’t bought one for a while, so I had slipped off the Persephone Biannually list, but when I heard there was a new Dorothy Whipple I had to get it. And then clearly I had to buy another two to get the discount postage – Miss Buncle Married and Fidelity.

Here is the blurb (or what it has on the inside cover – it is an excerpt from one of the stories)…

She sighed heavily and looked unseeingly out of the window, crushed with the boredom of being where she was, of being a widow, of not being invited anywhere for this fortnight. ‘It’s cutlet for cutlet,’ she thought bitterly. ‘I can’t entertain, so no one entertains me now. To think that I should have come to a place like this. After the life,’ she thought, ‘I’ve lived.’

She closed her eyes against the dining room, but opened them again on being addressed by Maud.

‘D’you want the mayonnaise?’ asked Maud truculently, bringing it.

‘Out of a bottle?’ said Mrs Moore. ‘No’.

Maud went out of the dining room, but spoke in a loud voice in the passage outside.

‘It’s a quarter-past two and my afternoon off,’ she said. ‘I’m not going to stand this, so you know, Mrs Pink. I’ve no need to.’

These are beautifully written stories about ordinary (and the occasionally  malicious) people. These stories were published between 1935 and 1961 and are of their time and about a certain class (middle) of English society. Don’t assume it is all tea drinking and scone eating – people are people wherever you find them. They are selfish, self-centred, vicious, kind, generous and self-sacrificing.

These novels are for people who are more interested in character than plot.

Here is the Persephone page for Every Good Deed

Here is a review from the Book Snob about one of the stories – Every Good Deed

And another review …

Every Good Deed and Other Stories – Dorothy Whipple – a new Persephone!


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Greenbanks – Dorothy Whipple

Greenbanks - Dorothy Whipple

Greenbanks – Dorothy Whipple

I have been painfully making my way through Not Wisely, but too Well by Rhoda Broughton (there will be a review) and I needed something less joyless. I have read other Whipple novels – like this one or this one – and enjoyed them all plus as it has been a while since I had ordered any books from Persephone, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Here is the bit on the inside cover…

‘It is a preposterous play’ said Ambrose. ‘I am ashamed to be present at such a play with my wife.’

‘Oh, don’t worry about me,’ said Letty. ‘I know all of this and more.’

‘You know nothing,’ said Ambrose severely. ‘That’s the only redeeming feature of your appalling views. Ignorance. You’ve lived a sheltered life, thank goodness. But as a wife and a mother, you ought to uphold a strict moral standard whether you understand why or not.’

‘Not at a play! Not at a play!’ broke in Letty wildly.

She turned from him and pretended to be absorbed by watching the attendant with the tray of ices, but really she was saying to herself: ‘Oh, I’m tired of all you say. I’m tired even before you begin …’

Ambrose went on talking, but she did not listen. He gave her, more and more frequently, the same flat exhausted feeling she had when she tried to carry a mattress downstairs unaided.

This novel was beautifully written – it is about families, marriages, the choices we make (and living with those choices), the limited choices of a ‘good women’,  parent/child relationships and our expectations. Louisa, the family matriarch, just wants everyone to be happy – from her son Charles – feckless, but charming. her unhappily married daughters (see it’s all about our choices), her companion Kate to her grand daughter Rachel – who might be the one to find happiness. It is a quite novel – lots of knitting and reading in the sitting room, but none the less full of desperation, despair. resentment, boredom and occasional moments of quite happiness.

It is worth reading for the beauty of the prose, the ordinary made extraordinary and for a portrayal of joyless unsuitable marriages (despite appearing to be successful from a worldly point of view).

More reviews …




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