Friday, 3 October 2014
Life has rather ground to a standstill over the past few days as I've been head-down in Sarah Waters' page-turner of a novel. It's not her best, I don't think, but it's still first-class autumn reading.
It is 1922 and post-war London society is fissured. Soldiers have returned to a land that can't find employment for heroes. Genteel widowed Mrs Wray and her spinster daughter are forced to take in paying guests to maintain their shabby South London villa. The paying guests are a brash young couple from the new 'clerk class' who initially bring colour and a bit of life to respectable suburbia. But they also bring with them the contagion of moral and emotional chaos.
I thought the novel was more interesting at the start in its depiction of two classes coming into intimate contact on the stairs and landing and passing through the kitchen en route to the outside lav. After that ... well, I'd better not spoil it, but it does keep you gripped to the last page.
Fortunately, I have a new Persephone to console me for the gap it leaves in my life. (And a heap of work that has been shoved to one side as I read 'just one more chapter...')
I'm also feeling very regretful for the many times I've walked past secondhand Virago copies of A Pin to See the Peep-Show - especially given the astronomical prices currently on Amazon.