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Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple

Someone at a Distance (original 1953; edition 2008)

by Dorothy Whipple, Nina Bawden (Preface)

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4142125,667 (4.19)94
Title:Someone at a Distance
Authors:Dorothy Whipple
Other authors:Nina Bawden (Preface)
Info:Persephone Books (2008), Edition: Revised, Paperback, 420 pages
Collections:Persephone, Your library (inactive)
Tags:Persephone Classics; (3)

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Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple (1953)



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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. ( )
2 vote AlisonY | Mar 1, 2015 |
Ellen North, daughter, Anne and son, Hugh, put their lives back together after her picture perfect marriage to very nice guy, Avery, is destroyed by beautiful, scheming, French "tart", Louise. Well and insightfully told story. ( )
  Jonlyn | Apr 11, 2014 |
A highly readable study of the insertion of a sociopathic woman into a traditional marriage and the havoc that is wreaked as a result. Old Mrs. North, the widow of a highly successful industrialist, brings 27-year-old "French girl" Louise Lanier, into her home for companionship and light domestic duties. Louise, seething with resentment at being thrown over by her former lover, rich-boy Paul Devoisy--who has recently made a very bourgeois marriage to a plain and pious town girl with a good dowry--recognizes the new opportunities available to her. After Louise is left a significant amount of money by Mrs. North, she returns to England to collect it, finagling an extended stay at the home of the deceased woman's handsome and happily married middle-aged son, Avery, a partner in a successful London publishing firm. Motivated by her rage at Paul, Louise seduces Avery, whose family life is destroyed. The novel is an account of the ruination of a marriage by infidelity, but also an investigation into a female sociopathic mind. There is considerable melodrama, yes, and some moralizing, but the writing is generally smart and the characterization--with the exception of the limp and rather weak-willed Avery--convincing. A page-turner. ( )
  fountainoverflows | Apr 7, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dorothy Whippleprimary authorall editionscalculated
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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