Original date of publication: 1952
My copy: 2004 (Persephone)
Why I decided to read:
How I acquired my copy: Persephone subscription July 2012
What I like about Marghanita Laski’s books (of the ones I’ve read so far) is that they’re all different in subject matter, but they’re all very similar, too. Little Boy Lost and The Victorian Chaise Lounge, as well as The Village, all deal with the theme of chaos and how it impacts social structure. Her novels are also about how her characters deal with the effects of that chaos.
The Village opens on the day that WWII ends in Europe. The people of Priory Hill join their fellow Englishman in rejoicing over the end of the war. But what a lot of them don’t realize is that a way of life, consisting of rigid class hierarchy, is over; or if they do, they try to cling to it. The Trevors are one such family; although they’ve “come down, they still cling to the idea that they’re gentry. So it’s a complete shock to them when their daughter, Margaret, strikes up a friendship with Roy Wilson, a young printer whose mother was a housekeeper.
The Village is not your usual tale of the life of a county village; it’s the story of one community’s attempt to deal with the shift in perspective that occurred after the war. It illustrates the fact that social status is merely an illusion. In some ways, Margaret and Roy represent the “new way” of doing things. In all, this novel is an excellent representation of how WWII affected people--not so much the soldiers but civilians.