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The Curate's Wife – tekijä: Emily Hilda…

The Curate's Wife (alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi 1934; vuoden 1985 painos)

– tekijä: Emily Hilda Young

Sarjat: Rendall Sisters (2)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
1554139,963 (3.92)95
Teoksen nimi:The Curate's Wife
Kirjailijat:Emily Hilda Young
Info:VIRAGO PRESS LTD (1985), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 350 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
Arvio (tähdet):

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The Curate's Wife (tekijä: E.H. Young) (1934)


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näyttää 4/4
strange book. very interesting characters. ( )
  mahallett | Aug 24, 2021 |
I have enjoyed several E H Young novels, a writer who is probably read far less these days than she deserves to be. The Curate’s Wife is the sequel to her 1932 novel Jenny Wren; and is again set in the fictional Upper Radstowe – a thinly disguised Clifton, where she set several of her novels. Ridiculously it is three years since I read Jenny Wren (I was convinced in my own mind it was a little over a year – before I checked) – and so I had to look back at my own review before starting to read.

The Curate’s Wife, takes up more or less where Jenny Wren left off – only the focus shifts from the character of Jenny Rendall to her sister Dahlia. In the previous novel gently educated Jenny and her sister – the daughters of a gentleman who had married beneath him – struggled with aspects their new life in Upper Radstowe following their father’s death. Their mother – who everybody acknowledges to be their social inferior starts a boarding house – next door to a nasty, vicious old gossip, and openly conducts a relationship with a farmer. Jenny particularly feels the social difference between herself and her mother – which leads to trouble in her own romantic life.

“Cecil’s long legs and his love took him very rapidly up the street and across The Green. He had already done several errands and he was willing to do more. He liked leaving the house for the sake of coming back to it and finding Dahlia there, always busy but also always ready to stop work and talk and tell him how the house would look when she had finished with it.”

The Curate’s Wife of the title is Dahlia – who has just arrived back to Upper Radstowe from her honeymoon. She has married the rather serious, very conventional, curate Rev. Cecil Sproat. Dahlia is anything but conventional; beautiful, irreverent she sees Cecil’s vocation as rather old womanish – and ridiculous, seeing humour in things that leave poor Cecil a little puzzled. Dahlia is kind though, and well intentioned, she wants to be a good curate’s wife and assist him in his work. Dahlia is fond of Cecil – but she isn’t madly in love with him, as he is with her – for Dahlia, marriage with Cecil is safety and stability. Dahlia and Cecil have married each other without knowing one another very well – Dahlia is very young – and Cecil so very serious, the two have a lot to learn about each other from the start. Their marriage is compared and contrasted with that of Cecil’s vicar and his wife.

“She cried without tears while she undressed. She found the loneliness of trouble in marriage greater than its joy when all went well, for happiness need not be concealed. The success of marriage calls for proclamation, its failure must not be acknowledged and now she could not creep into Jenny’s bed, as she wished to do, and warm herself and find comfort in a love that needed no explanation.”

Cecil’s vicar is Mr Doubleday – a slightly ineffectual but basically decent man – married to a managing harridan, who is immediately determined to disapprove of Dahlia. Mrs Doubleday is horrified by the idea of Dahlia’s mother, now married to her farmer and living over the bridge in the countryside setting she is more comfortable with. The Doubleday’s have been married for over thirty years; their son who they both adore having been abroad is on his way home following an attack of Malaria. Their relationship has been one of dominance and subservience, Mr Doubleday it appears has lived in thrall to his wife’s more dominating and difficult personality. The portrait of the Doubleday marriage is a sombre one, two people living together so long – yet they long ago ceased to communicate properly. Mrs Doubleday is gradually made aware of her husband as an unexpected subversive. While she jealously guarded her own relationship with their son – trying wherever possible to cut her husband out of Reginald’s life – her husband has been writing his own private letters – letters filled with humorous stories that have been a great delight to his son.

“Week by week, he had slipped a short and very dull note into the envelope addressed to Reginald, week by week, she had read and scorned it, and he had been writing long, funny letters secretly and posting them on the sly! She was ready to suspect him of almost any wickedness. Had he been writing such letters for nearly twenty years, while Reginald was at school and university? If so, the really dangerous change was in Reginal who no longer cared to spare her feelings”

Jenny meanwhile has been living with a former lodger of her mother’s and his family in the antique shop he runs. About the time that Jenny reappears in Upper Radstowe Dahlia meets and is momentarily distracted by a couple of glamourous young men. Reginald Doubleday is quick to notice Jenny, much to his mother’s horror.

The Curate’s Wife is a lovely, thoughtful portrait of marriage – showing how damaging and difficult it can be when two people marry without knowing one another well. Many of the attitudes are very old fashioned – even for the times in which the book was written. Dahlia and Jenny are very much the new generation – the Doubledays – and even Cecil seem to represent a different, earlier society. By examining the life of the vicar and his wife even Dahlia is able to see the worrying parallels with her and Cecil’s marriage.

E H Young allows her characters to each learn the lessons they perhaps need to – but the novel itself ends fairly abruptly – in a sense the reader can never be certain of the future of the curate’s wife. I actually really like such endings – but I know not everyone does.

When re-arranging some books on my tbr bookcase the other day I was delighted to come across a lovely green virago edition of E H Young’s 1937 novel Celia. I hope it doesn’t take me three years to get around to that one. ( )
2 ääni Heaven-Ali | Jan 3, 2016 |
EH Young is one of the authors I never would have heard about if it hadn’t been for Virago. Her novels are for the most part set in a town she calls Upper Radstowe, based upon Bristol. The heroine of this story is Dahlia, a young, nonconformist woman married to the curate of Upper Radsowe, Cecil Sproat. The pair have only known each other for eight months and been married for only three weeks, and so they are still getting to know one another. Dahlia comes from a rather checkered past; her mother Louisa is re-married to a man with whom she probably had an adulterous affair; and her sister Jenny (the main character of Jenny Wren, to which this book is a sequel) has run off with Louisa’s lodger. Then there are the Vicar, Mr. Doubleday, and his wife, whose marriage serves as a contrast to that of the Sproats.

This is a novel that centers on the theme of marriage; Dahlia is still coming to terms with what it means to be a wife, whereas Mrs. Doubleday, who has been married for thirty years and has a grown son, has become accustomed to it. Much more satisfactory is Louisa’s marriage to a local farmer, with whom she’s found perfect happiness. Louisa has found a way to be herself, whereas I think Dahlia conforms to what she thinks a curate’s wife should be like, and Mrs. Doubleday, because of the kind of domineering, selfish person she is, can’t find a way to be happy. Therefore, the only marriage with romance in it is Louisa’s. There is a constant, exhausting power struggle in the Doubleday and Sproat marriages that is absent in the Grimshaws’.

EH Young tends to focus her stories on character creation and development, and it’s interesting to watch Dahlia’s growth in the early months of her marriage. There’s little in the way of plot, in fact, not much happens, but the details of the ways that people behave when married are very good. I’m not married and therefore can’t sympathize with these characters in that way; but the novel is no less powerful for that. ( )
2 ääni Kasthu | May 20, 2011 |
The Curate's Wife is a story of marriage. Dahlia and Cecil Sproat, the title couple, are newly married. Cecil adores Dahlia; she is affectionate but not passionate towards him. Dahlia chose marriage primarily in response to a strong desire to live away from her mother and stepfather. She also desperately misses her sister Jenny, who left town to live near a young antiques dealer, formerly a lodger in her mother's house. Dahlia doesn't share Cecil's spiritual views, and with her outspoken nature she finds it difficult to play the part of a curate's wife. Every day the couple dance around one another, too shy to show strong affection and nearly always surprised by some newly-discovered aspect of the other's character. These discoveries often lead to arguments, and later, reconciliation:
Thus, in one day, she experienced the sensation of slipping from a hold, then of recovering it from another angle and finding that though she was not in exactly the place from which she started, she had not lost much by the fall and was actually in a better position for the next step, and she thought she could go on firmly now, not knowing that in this most difficult of relationships, there must be, if it survived with any beauty, this periodical slipping and recovery and advance in a slightly different direction. (p. 40)

Dahlia realizes early on that her marriage will not be a passionate one. She enjoys the attentions of Simon Tothill for a while, even while realizing their relationship has no future. When her sister Jenny returns to the community, Dahlia welcomes her with open arms and lives somewhat vicariously through Jenny's relationships with local men.

Meanwhile, there is another couple worthy of attention: the vicar, Norman Doubleday, and his wife Flora. Their marriage is also explored in depth, with quite poignant results, but for most of the novel the couple provide comic relief. Mr. Doubleday is chubby and somewhat dim-witted, prone to repetitive speech and constant humming. Mrs. Doubleday rules the roost, attempting to control everyone and everything: She did not understand why what she did not like should be allowed... (p. 250) A visit by their adult son Reginald forces Flora to face up to the reality of her marriage and her part in it.

Emily Hilda Young is marvelous in her portrayal of both couples. The Curate's Wife is a sequel to Jenny Wren, and I found it a more mature work exploring more complex themes. A very good read. ( )
7 ääni lauralkeet | Sep 5, 2009 |
näyttää 4/4
ei arvosteluja | lisää arvostelu

» Lisää muita tekijöitä

Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
Young, E.H.ensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Beauman, SallyJohdantomuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu

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On a morning in September, the first morning in the house he was to share with Dahlia, the Rev. Cecil Sproat woke early and, resisting the temptation to stay in bed and consider the happy future, to watch Dahlia in her pretty sleeping posture, her bright hair ruffled on the pillow, he rose and went quietly from the room, determined to begin the day with an act of service and wake Dahlia with a pleasant tinkling of teacups.
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The Rev. Cecil Sproat was bicycling into the country in a small company of what are always called lads in his profession. It was a mode of progression he disliked, even when there was no wind, and now there was enough of it to make his eyes water and force his body into those earnest curves which always appear a little ludicrous to observers. ... His nose was red, there was a grim set to his mouth and there were metal clips on the ends of his trousers. No doubt it was good of him to remove these youths from the dangers of an idle Saturday afternoon ...
Accompanied by Miss Fairweather who wheeled a bicycle, she marched down the drive. ... Miss Fairweather was silent. Faint whirring and clicking sounds came from her bicycle, but none from her until, pausing outside the gate before she mounted to ride down the hill, she said ... "Oh," said Miss Fairweather, with one foot on the higher pedal and her thin shoulders raised to help her to the saddle ... she sailed down the hill. Mrs Doubleday watched her out of sight ... the person who went off on her bicycle like a witch on a broomstick.
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