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The Travels of Maudie Tipstaff by Margaret…

The Travels of Maudie Tipstaff (1967)

by Margaret Forster

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291378,207 (3.7)5
  1. 00
    The Middle Age of Mrs Eliot by Angus Wilson (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both books depict a series of disastrous visits made by a woman left alone.
  2. 00
    The Seduction of Mrs. Pendlebury by Margaret Forster (KayCliff)

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Margaret Forster has the ability to create intensely believable and well-rounded characters, or perhaps I should say intensely believable and well-rounded female character: her men are perhaps a little bit more shadowy. But then it's women and their family relationships who are the main focus of Margaret Forster's writing. And in this book she has managed to create a title character who is bigoted, irritable, hugely overbearing and convinced that she is right about everything, who I know I would find intensely irritating after only five minutes if I ever met her in real life, and yet who genuinely engages the reader's interest and sympathy.

After nearly fifty years of marriage, the Glaswegian Maudie Tipstaff is coming to terms with the absence of her husband, Joseph. But absence is the operative word, as rather than being dead as the reader initially supposes, it soon becomes apparent that he has left her. The violent and hard-drinking Joseph has always been a great disappointment to the intensely respectable and hard-working Maudie, and his departure means that she can now spend some time in visiting her grown-up children. But rather than finding comfort in her children's presence she finds each of them in their own way as frustrating as the missing Joseph. Jean has inherited her mother housewifely skills, and at first glance is the most similar to her mother, but is the daughter who dreads her mother's visit the most, as her constant disapproval casts a gloomy pall over her comfortable house. 'Dear God!' rings out Maudie's cry time and again, as she picks fault with the small details of Jean's life, while refusing to talk about the emotional problems that Jean longs to discuss. But if Jean is a disappointment to her mother, Sally causes her embarassment and misery as she discovers that her daughter is the talk of the her village, with her slovenly and sluttish ways. Maudie expects all to be resolved with her visit to her son Robert, in Malta, but it is on this visit that she suffers the greatest disillusionment of all.

The Travels of Maudie Tipstaff is one of Margaret Forster's earlier novels (it was published in 1967) and Maudie is a product of her age. But taking that into account she seems utterly believable,as do her daughters. It is only the son Robert, who doesn't quite seem to work as a rounded character. But overall, a great read. ( )
1 vote SandDune | Apr 25, 2013 |
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Maudie inspected the room and kitchen for the last time.
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