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Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple
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Someone at a Distance (1953)

by Dorothy Whipple

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» See also 97 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Ellen loves her husband Avery for no discernible reason, and he loves her back in a totally-takes-her-for-granted way. Avery’s mother brings the scheming utterly selfish Louise into their lives. Disappointed when her lover ditches her for a more suitable bride (this read a bit like a Regency romance) she revenges herself on him by stealing Avery from Ellen.

I quite enjoyed this novel, although the first half dragged a little - Louise perhaps travelled between England and France more times than was strictly necessary to advance what there was of a plot - but after that things picked up. The very ending was so appalling that I am deducting a star for it. (less) ( )
  pgchuis | Mar 22, 2019 |
I'm in a quandary about how to rate this book. I again loved Whipple's writing style and I quickly devoured this book, but I really didn't like the actions of the characters. I guess you could argue that the namby pamby main character Ellen is a product of the time period in which this is written, the 1950's, but I don't buy that. It was so frustrating to have this woman be so extremely naive and weak, and there were several times I found myself getting angry with her! I guess maybe that makes it a great book? A reaction that strong, whether positive or negative must mean the author has done something right! So I'm changing my original 3 star rating to a 4 :) ( )
  Iambookish | Dec 14, 2016 |
I liked this though I can see how she fell out of favor by the 196os. But it's a good story, well told with interesting characters. I found the setting - post WW2 England - the most interesting with the changing class and social mores. Plus, a Frenchwoman so vile she makes an infant deathly ill just by looking at it. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
[Someone at a Distance] was a Peresphone classic. It was a story of love, trust, betrayal, and forgiveness. My first Peresphone and a good read, not your usual trashy romances; it was something more substantial. ( )
  tess_schoolmarm | Jun 1, 2015 |
Part of the Persephone Classics series that covers forgotten authors, Dorothy Whipple (unbeknown to be) wrote 8 successful novels from the 1930s up to 1953, when she wrote this, her final novel.

[Someone at a Distance] tells the story of the North family, who are leading an idyllic, happy life in the commuter belt until a cold and calculating young French woman comes to live for a short time with Mr. North's mother. Setting her sights on Mr. North, she succeeds in tearing apart not only Ellen and Avery North's happy marriage, but the loving trust and security of the whole family unit.

This quietly disarming book excels at getting into the psychology of it's characters, delving painfully into the complexity of how the affair affects each of the family members, including the perpetrator Mr. North. The affair itself is so subtly and delicately developed, Whipple capturing so perceptively how it only takes the igniting of the tiniest spark to painfully change the course of a happy marriage forever.

This is not a book with any pretensions of literary brilliance, yet it is brilliant - pared back, hard hitting and thought provoking. Is it so simple to put 20 years of marriage in the past? How do children impact the decisions that you make about that marriage?

The characterisation is just fantastic - you are totally drawn into the whole painful mess, feeling the myriad of emotions that the characters swing between. Lust, greed, pride, sloth, shame - how each of these can blind us and send us down the wrong path.

A quietly brilliant observation of human frailty - 4.5 stars. ( )
3 vote AlisonY | Mar 1, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dorothy Whippleprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bawden, NinaForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bawden, NinaPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Widowed, in the house her husband had built with day and night nurseries and a music-room, as if the children would stay forever instead of marrying and going off at the earliest possible moment, old Mrs North yielded one day to a long-felt desire to provide herself with company.
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A deceptively simple plot about a deceived wife and a foolish husband. Avery and Ellen have been married for twenty years. When his mother advertises for a companion, the French girl who arrives sets her sights on Avery and callously threatens the happy marriage.… (more)

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