stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
To paraphrase Jonathan Coe's introduction, Rosamond Lehmann's last novel that's actually readable. Something of a disappointment, considering how much I enjoyed 'Dusty Answer'. I think I was slightly misled by the blurb, which implied that the novel was centred on two sisters, Madeleine and Dinah, following the death of Rickie, Madeleine's husband and Dinah's lover. Which it sort of is, but... An awful lot of the book deals directly with Rickie, who really felt like the least interesting character. I much preferred the tense scenes between Madeleine and Dinah, and there were several other characters I'd like to have seen privileged, particularly Dinah's husband Jo, who sounded absolutely fascinating and then just disappeared, and her lover Rob, who were the nearest Lehmann got to a lower-class voice. So, yes: less of Rickie, more of everyone else, please.

http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/9968372/
stapsreads: 'The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them' (Default)
The cover of my edition quotes Virginia Woolf saying, 'I was jealous of her writing - the only writing I have ever been jealous of.' Certainly there's a comparison to make between the three short works here (Prelude, At The Bay, and The Doll's House) and Woolf's stories - delicate, evocative works, deep rather than broad, perceptive yet dispassionate, examining ordinary people in very great detail.

Where I think Mansfield has the edge is her depiction of children. Kezia and Isabel are really very believable, and that's important, because we spend a lot of time inside the former's head - though, flicking back through, I find that it's no more time than we spend with any of the adults, who are convincing in themselves.

This isn't comfort reading. I found some home truths in here, and some of them were not flattering at all. It is, however, worth a read. Or a re-read.


Extract )

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