|Gertrude in the Kitchen, Harold Harvey|
So I was so pleased that I had this book at the top of my pile - and that it was absolutely the right kind of soothing escape into someone else's domestic life instead of my own. (And so pleased to be enjoying EH Young as much as usual after a disappointing time with The Vicar's Daughter.)
Why isn't EH Young better known today? I think this is one of the best novels I have ever read about the nuances of a marriage that's frayed around the edges. Celia married just before WW1 - her husband is a not very successful architect designing mean little villas that she despises - and they're living on a middle-class shoestring. The marriage works - they jog along together, quite good friends - but Celia hates sex and any physical contact with her pudgy, damply sweating husband (how she longs for the deep peace of a single bed) and fantasises about a very mild little fling she had briefly during the war. This seems overwhelmingly sad, the way she's allowed this daydream to become the central relationship of her life. But there are other marriages in Celia's immediate circle ... there's her well-heeled sister, May, whose husband fantasises about escape; her snobbish, interfering sister-in-law Julia; a friend who has a secret tragedy. By the end of the novel, you feel you know them all intimately, their strengths and shortcomings and the self-deceptions that keep these marriages going but also stop them from becming anything finer.
Oh, don't listen to me rambling on ... find a copy in a charity shop. (Mine was in the library reserve and hadn't been stamped out since 1990 when it was republished by Virago.)