Greenbanks was my Persephone Secret Santa gift from Danielle way back in December. It was exactly what I wanted and I was so happy to get it, but then I put it on my bedside table and didn’t even think about it again until a few weeks ago when I was searching for a really good domestic novel to get lost in. Greenbanks fit the bill splendidly.
It tells the story of the Ashton family and is set before, during and a few years after the Great War. We see their world through the eyes of several of the female members of the family and it is mostly painful and baffling for them. They deal with adulterous spouses, missed romantic connections, death, financial worries and everyday heartbreak. The Ashton matriarch, Louisa, firmly holds on to her ideals during each and every challenge and is the backbone for her children and especially for her granddaughter, Rachel.
This novel is quiet and unassuming. The writing isn’t fancy and there aren’t any impressive lyrical passages. It is solid, wonderfully solid, storytelling and a very real and believable tale about families. Most of the characters are flawed and broken, just as are those of us who are reading their story and that made me like the novel even more. I also enjoyed the inclusion of little domestic details such as the descriptions of meal preparation, knitting and embroidery projects, interior design decisions and wardrobe choices.
I hope this doesn’t make it sound like a sweet or sappy novel because it isn’t at all. It is moving and thoughtful and I look forward to reading more novels by Dorothy Whipple. Have you read her novels? Which one do you recommend?
Go here to read a fascinating talk about Dorothy Whipple and the allure of her writing.
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