Skip to main content

Review: The Way Things Are, by EM Delafield


Pages: 336
Original date of publication: 1927
My edition: 1988 (Virago Modern Classics)
Why I decided to read: read for All Virago/All August
How I acquired my copy: Ebay, January 2012

The heroine of The Way Things Are is kind of a prototype for the Provincial Lady. Laura Temple has been married to her husband Alfred for 7 years. The have two small sons together and Laura spends her time looking after her family and engaging in the local affairs of the village of Quinnerton. At heart, though, Laura feels trapped—her husband is a good man but she feels that she’s missing something—until she meets Duke (Marmaduke) Ayland, a friend of her younger sister Christine.

On the surface, the book is lighthearted, even funny in some places; but you really experience the boredom and monotony that Laura feels. At the heart of this book is the theme of entrapment—EMD believed that all married women were trapped. EMD approaches the book with detachment; she tried to view the characters impartially, so none of them experience an inner monologue, for example (except possibly Laura). Her husband is an archetype (in a review, the Times Literary Supplement called him “stolid as a leg of mutton”); her sister is an archetype; her children are archetypes; even Laura herself is an archetype of the typical country housewife, concerned with the petty details of her everyday existence (complete with Servant Problems). But there’s humor in the monotony of Laura’s everyday life.

It’s interesting to witness the contrast and similarities between our heroine and her unmarried, city-dwelling sister Christine. But I noticed a theme between them; both only seem half-content with with the lifestyle they have (Laura spends her time having an extramarital affair; Christine accidentally ends up finding a husband). Given the title and knowing what we know about Laura, the ending is predictable, but it’s interesting to watch her make her decision. In all though, I prefer the Provincial Lady for wit and humor.



Comments

alexinleeds.com said…
I've only ever read the PL novels but I have a copy of Humbug around here which I really should get round to reading. I'm still not sure what to make of EMD as an author...

Popular posts from this blog

2015 Reading

January
1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

February
1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

March
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…

2016 Reading

January:
1. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
2. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
3. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
4. Liar: A Memoir, by Rob Roberge

February:
1. The Forsyte Saga, by John Galsworthy
2. Girl in the Woods, by Aspen Matis
3. She Left Me the Gun, by Emma Brockes
4. Because of the Lockwoods, by Dorothy Whipple
5. The Chronology of Water, by Lidia Yuknavitch
6. To Show and to Tell, by Philip Lopate

March:
1. Fierce Attachments, by Vivian Gornick
2. Too Brief a Treat, by Truman Capote
3. On the Move: a Life, by Oliver Sacks
4. The Go-Between, by LP Hartley
5. The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
6. Giving Up the Ghost, by Hilary Mantel
7. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
8. The Great American Bus Ride, by Irma Kurtz
9. An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Radfield Jamison
10. A Widow's Story, by Joyce Carol Oates
11. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder
12. The Liar's Club, by Mary Karr
13. An American Childhood, by Annie Dillard
14. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972Originally published: 1944My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press)How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…