It would take a stellar read to hold my attention with The Heiress back from school and being the lone dog walker and play toy of Deacon with R away. The Tortoise and the Hare was definitely that and so much more, and to think it was a serendipitous purchase due to a riveting pair of red stockings on the cover.
Considering that I must be one of the last in this sphere of bloggers to read this quiet masterpiece I won't go into much detail about the synopsis. In the simplest of descriptions this book is about a woman slowly coming to the realization that her husband is having an affair.
Imogen Gresham is younger than her husband, Evelyn, a handsome and confident barrister with an office in London. Her day usually consists of seeing to the whims of her son, Gavin, who holds the same regard for her as his father. She is nothing more than an ornament, someone who runs their errands or sees that their clothing is bought from the right shops. I haven't quite decided if it's down to Jenkins' writing or my finally coming to terms with the character of the quiet woman but Imogen failed to frustrate me. Yes, I wanted her to call Evelyn on his neglectful behaviour and excuses to spend time with Blanche the Bloated but I was willing to wait patiently for the eventual outburst. Well, at least I hoped there would be something of the sort.
Disliking Blanche, Evelyn and even Gavin made it easy for me to put them on a team early on and separate them from Imogen. I sat on the sidelines as quietly as Imogen, waiting for her to come to the conclusion that she deserved happiness from life for her own sake. When that moment came it would have been easy to write a scene of a woman emerging as a butterfly in technicolour but I thought Jenkins stayed true to Imogen's character and the ending was a most satisfactory one.
The handful of peripheral characters were a wonderful respite, the Leeper family with their house in disarray added an element of fairy tale from which little Tim escapes his bohemian family. And wasn't Cecil Stoner wonderful with her subtle yet potent jibes to Blanche? Oh, just writing about it makes me want to turn right back to the first page and start all over again.
Thank you to everyone who told me I would love this book, you were right! In fact, I enjoyed Jenkins' writing so much that I'm off to the dusty Reuse centre to pick up a copy of, Brightness, that I left behind last time.