Someone at a distance , by Dorothy Whipple
Last year , a dear friend of mine sent me 2 persephone books from UK and I started on both sporadically but kept them back for a more leisurly state of mind.
I picked 'Someone at a distance' again this weekend and could not put it back. As mentioned here and here , no one knows why but you cannot put the book down.. Its not a thriller or anything like that..rather a very ordinary story , extra-ordinarily written..
Ellen is a post-war housewife of a puplisher husband and is very happy managing her house, children , husband and garden. Avery loves his family, his daughter the most and his job too. Ellen would rather be mucking in the garden , than making herself pretty for her husband and in her naive trustfulness she doesnt realises how her husband is being snared by the French au pair - Louise, her mother in law hired to keep her company. It doesnt even happens right away, Avery is first affronted, then irritated and then taken in by her , all the time thinking that he has control of the affair. When it comes to forth though , he runs away with her instead of facing his family and putting things to right , even when he wants to but his pride stops him from eating the humble pie for rest of his life.
Ellen meanwhile has to take care of her innocent and heart-broken daughter and she refuses alimony (very un-characteristic of a 20th century housewife who hasnt earned a penny of her own in her lifetime) . Her feelings are not elaborated more after this or maybe she is just so busy taking care of everything else..
Louise's story also is an interesting look into a small-town girl with un-defined ambitions, who is thwarted in love by the rich kid from the village and how that translates into the disruption of Ellen and Avery's solid married life..
Rating - 7.5 /10
" Wear the old coat and buy the new book " — Austin Phelps