Monday, March 19, 2012

Greenbanks by Dorothy Whipple

Downton Abbey withdrawal symptoms have subsided ever so slightly with the storyline of Greenbanks by Dorothy Whipple.  The book opens on Christmas Day in 1909, with everyone gathered together in a comfortable house surrounded by snow.  There isn't anything like the controlled chaos of a 'downstairs' in this adaptation of Whipple's Edwardian family but you get the idea.

The Ashton's saga is a scaled-down version but several of the storylines from Downton Abbey are recognizable.  An older generation holding steadfast to tradition, a younger set trying to break free from the mold, letters calling young men to war and bandage classes for women.  And if men aren't always having the last word these days, society still dictates conscience and behaviour to quite a degree.

Louisa and her philandering husband, Robert, are parents to adult children who still run to them for advice on how to remove themselves from sticky situations.  With so many dynamics involving the core family, respective spouses and offspring they provide enough fodder for their own lively soap opera.  Whipple's restraint prevents Greenbanks from running to high drama but successfully brings the reader to a state of anticipation wondering how each event will conclude.

Affairs, illegitimacy, the female struggle for independance, World War I, money woes, sly financial dealings and yes, even a dishy vicar keep Louisa from growing too complacent about her family and staff.  Her one constant is granddaughter, Rachel, who prefers the spare room at Greenbanks to her bedroom at home.  And who could blame her with a father who scoffs at the idea of women filling their heads with knowledge.  I silently egged her on through each opportunity to achieve fulfillment and laughed when she used putty to fill the holes in her desk in an attempt at dentistry.

Greenbanks is a thoroughly enjoyable read, a cosy book.  My only issue with it came at the very end when a few words into the afterword I realized it wasn't the next chapter!  Surely an author I adore wouldn't abandon me right then and there, wondering about the impact of a certain character's absence at the breakfast table?  But she did.  I'm not overly ticked about it or anything, life goes on...which is the point Dorothy Whipple was making with this sort of ending.  I would like to think happily ever after comes into it but I'm not so sure.


  1. I hate this kind of ending which leaves me hanging on. But the book sounds so very delightful!

  2. Everywhere I turn, I read about someone reading and loving Dorothy Whipple. As luck would have it, I own one of her books (Someone at a Distance, a Persephone which I recently received as a gift). Must read it soon!

  3. This sounds like a delightful read, except for the abrupt end! But as you say, life does go on, I guess... though how we wish we can get a proper closure for everything.

  4. Must read this (I need a cosy read; it's been too long) and really must watch Downton Abbey! *waves hello*

  5. Mystica, Went up to bed early to finish my book and barely got snuggled in before it was all over! It was delightful though.

    Laura, That was my first Whipple and it's still my favourite. Don't let it languish for too long.

    Kristina, I remember your post about that Persephone book chat we went to 'A Whipple and a Wander'. Best post title ever!

    michelle, Perhaps that's the best bit once we're over the shock...we get to formulate our own conclusions. After writing more than 300 pages though you would think an author WOULD want to tie things up in a bow *sigh*.

    Claire, Hello and hugs! You will find just the right moment for both book and television at some point. I really do envy your day on the Strand surrounded by books and information. Lovely to hear from you!

  6. Hello Darlene, I've had you on my blogroll for sometime and enjoyed this post on Whipple. These days I'm reading more and more business books but tonight I'll bury my nose in Secret Life of Bees. Would love for you to stop by for a visit! Joy of Nesting, Shiree'