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The Tortoise and the Hare by Elizabeth…

The Tortoise and the Hare (1954)

by Elizabeth Jenkins

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Rather unconventional ending, when the third party got her way and got her man. ( )
  siok | Jun 26, 2016 |
After a very slow start, when I picked this up again a couple of days ago I became riveted by the story, painful as it is, of a not-so-bad marriage unraveling when a more determined and lively woman comes along and steps into what she perceives as a 'void' waiting to be filled. I think the novel does start slowly and carefully but once it gets underway (about 1/3 in) events pick up and, given the character of each person involved, which the careful beginning has made very clear, the end is inevitable. And complex. At the time it was written, late forties, divorce was just beginning to be something that could be survived socially. In its own way the novel is subversive, as much of women's fiction is - the question Imogen must face is whether she will 'settle' for being the wife who won't give up her husband and consents to share him, or whether she will leave him. The dance of active/passive that couples play is perfectly laid out here - in this case the man sets up the situation so that in all regards the women are making 'the moves' - that he is passively orchestrating everything he carefully blanks out of his consciousness - I've certainly seen that before but I've never encountered it written up so well. As an aside - Imogen's relationship with her son Gavin is beautifully done, he is his father's son completely, and does not 'get' or even respect her and the Leeper family is priceless and the son Tim, with his devotion and appreciation of Imogen, a wonderful balancing piece of the story. I've read several of Jenkins biographies and can't recommend them more highly, and now, I'm happy to say I can recommend her novel as well. ****1/2 ( )
5 vote sibyx | Jul 7, 2013 |
(21 January 2012 – from Ali for my birthday)

This is a gorgeous Virago hardback edition. SO pretty. Imogen is married to Eveylyn Gresham, a barrister a good few years older than her who is Not Particularly Nice, but exerts a traditional patriarchal and also sexual hold over her. She keeps up her end of the marital bargain by being decorative (which she was obviously raised to be) and trying to run the house and family smoothly (not so successfully), buoyed up only by her flirtatious relationship with old friend, Paul, and her sustaining friendship with Cecil (who is a lady with a man’s name, contrasting nicely with Evelyn’s bi-gendered name). Enter Blanche Silcox, bluff and gruff in her ill-fitting tweeds, and elderly at 50, who is, it seems, determined to prise Evelyn away from Imogen. The women thus far mentioned are contrasted with a terrifying poetess who operates entirely through her physicality, a brittle wife and a neglectful mother: no one comes out of this particularly well.

The psychological suspense is almost unbearable – you want to probe the situation like you would a slightly sore tooth or a mild bruise. Redemption comes through the most unlikely of sources, and only once you’ve been put through the wringer. It is rather Elizabeth Taylorian (even being set near Reading) and, to put it mildly, exquisite. ( )
1 vote LyzzyBee | Oct 2, 2012 |
One of those books about being a woman in the middle of the twentieth century which is inadvertently chilling (I think this is why I don't usually read Viragos). Beautiful feminine Imogen has been married to her much older and intimidating barrister husband for more than a decade. Somehow he seems to have become increasingly drawn to their frumpy middle-aged spinster neighbour, despite her massive hats and appalling taste. Occasionally funny, but mostly a horrible insight into a time when women were brought up to be decorative and unfocused. ( )
1 vote annesadleir | Dec 20, 2011 |
Imogen Gresham is 37, married to a very successful barrister. They have an eleven-year-old son, a rather beastly boy named Gavin. Imogen’s husband, Evelyn, develops a friendship with their neighbor, a wealthy fifty-something-year-old spinster named Blanche Silcox. She and Imogen are completely opposite; and it’s Evelyn’s relationship with Blanche that colors the whole tone of his relationship with his wife.

Imogen is a domestic, preferring home over hunting or any of the other country pursuits that her husband engages in. It’s partly due to this as well that their relationship becomes fraught with tension. They have nothing in common, so it’s really no wonder that Evelyn turns to an older woman (one much closer in age to him than Imogen is) for, at the very least, friendship. It’s an odd affair; usually the femme fatale is a younger, not some staid, aging spinster. So the whole dynamic of the novel shifts. It’s perfectly natural that Evelyn and Blanche should become friends; but their relationship isn’t wholly natural. I still can’t quite figure things out.

What I loved about this book was Imogen’s reaction to the whole affair; it’s because of it, and her discovery of what’s going on, that she grows and matures as a person. When I began to read this novel, Imogen more or less faded into the background; she really wasn’t compelling enough as a main character, and so I really didn’t become attached to her right away. But the more I read, the more I liked her. She displays a quiet strength as she faces Evelyn and Blache’s affair hat I found quite admirable. I don’t think that a lot of people in her situation, with her kind of personality, would have the strength to do what she does in the end. And she gets major points for putting up with Evelyn for all those years! Elizabeth Jenkins has been compared to Jane Austen and Barbara Pym; there’s less humor in The Tortoise and the Hare, but it’s still a wonderful novel.

Elizabeth Jenkins was a biographer who was best known for her biographies of Elizabeth I and Jane Austen. She passed away last month, aged 105. ( )
2 vote Kasthu | Oct 15, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Jenkinsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mantel, HilaryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Emilia: O, who hath done this deed?
Desdemona: Nobody; I myself. Farewell.
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The sunlight of late September filled the pale, formal streets between Portland Place and Manchester Square.
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Book description
"It's an art, some people have it," Evelyn had said. I must be dreaming! she thought wildly. It could not be! A woman without looks, without - but Paul had said: "Are you sure you know what men fall in love with?"

Evelyn Gresham, fifty-two, is a KC of considerable distinction. He has everything life could offer - a gracious riverside house, a beautiful grey-eyed wife Imogen, devoted to him and to their eleven-year old son. Their nearest neighbour is Blanche Silcox, a plain, tweed-wearing woman of fifty who rides, shoots, fishes, and drives a Rolls Royce - in every way the opposite of Imogen. Theirs is a conventional country life at its most idyllic; or so it would seem. With great subtlety this exquisite novel demonstrates that in affairs of the heart the race is not necessarily to the swift - or the fair.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385279620, Paperback)

A love story with a difference, this exquisite novel subtly demonstrates that in affairs of the heart, the race is not necessarily to the swift—or the fair. It comes with a beautiful cover by Florence Broadhurst.

The magnetic Evelyn Gresham, 52, is a barrister of considerable distinction. He has everything life could offer—a gracious riverside house in Berkshire, a beautiful young wife, Imogen, who is devoted to him, and their 11-year-old son, a replica of his father. Their nearest neighbor is Blanche Silcox, a plain, tweed-wearing woman of 50 who rides, shoots, fishes, and drives a Rolls Royce—in every way the opposite of the domestic, loving Imogen. Their world is conventional country life at its most idyllic: how can its gentle surfaces be disturbed?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:56 -0400)

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