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The Blank Wall Paperback – January 1, 1950


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; First Edition edition (1950)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002C4HDE8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,795,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Diana F. Von Behren TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 28, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Two upper class individuals living in WWII America have their routine lives suddenly upended by interference from a less than desirable segment of society. In "The Blank Wall", Lucia is a well-meaning dedicated Navy wife,responsible for her father and her two teen-aged children. She is making an admirable go of it, managing from day to day, providing nurture in the form of balanced meals in spite of rationing, reliable steadfast advise for her elderly father and her normally angst ridden teenagers and deliberately routine letters sent to her husband to insure him of their normalcy. When her 17-year old daughter's involvement with a sleazy pornographer comes to Lucia's attention, her normal , just-getting-by existence is shattered. Suddenly she is forced to deal with the shady Mr. Nagle and his associate Mr. Donnelly to protect her way of life. The outcome is more than she bargained for...

In "The Innocent Mrs. Duff", Mr. Duff has become bored with his young wife, Reggie, twenty years his junior. He imagines how wonderful his life would be again if his first wife had not died. While fantasizing about ridding himself of Reggie and perhaps starting a life with his son's nanny, Miss Castle, the uppercrust Duff entangles himself with his street smart driver, Nolan and embarks on an interlude that jeopardizes everything he holds dear.
The author allows the reader of both these novellas to really get into the day-to-day nitty-gritty that actually makes people people. Through dialogue and musings, we see the inner workings Lucia and Duff well enough understand their predicaments and shake our heads over the turn of events.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jay Dickson VINE VOICE on October 11, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Elisabeth Sanxay Holding's THE BLANK WALL has twice been made into memorable movies: Max Ophuls' RECKLESS MOMENT, with Joan Bennett and James Mason in the post-War period, and THE DEEP END just a few years ago with Tilda Swinton. Expect a few more. This is one of the finest modern American novellas written, regardless of its pulp origins, and is thus simultaneously rich on any number of lveles while it remains breathlessly suspenseful. Lucia, a well-to-do mother raising her children by a lakeside in wartime while her husband fights overseas, finds herself (through her daughter's affair) covering up a manslaughter, then becomes entangled in blackmail and even murder. The novella is really an extended meditation on identity, gender, class , nationality and even race during the late modernist period, and brilliantly shifts back and forth within Lucia's consciousness from how she understands herself and how others see her. Her frantic attempt to keep the disparties in place is one of the most astonishing accomplishments of this narrative.
THE BLANK WALL is so very fine that the added novella, THE INNOCENT MRS. DUFF, is just frosting on the cake. It isn't nearly at the level of Harding's masterpiece (the main character is too dislikable, and the plot he involves himself in is too farfetched), but it serves as a somewhat fascinating comparison point for other novels told from the point of view of a killer (such as THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY or MALICE AFORETHOUGHT).
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David Group on June 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
Why Elisabeth Holding is not more famous is a mystery to me (almost all of her novels are out of print, a fate which once befell another neglected genius, Jim Thompson). Her novels deal with ordinary individuals caught up in events beyond their control, and her meticulous detailing of their struggles to overcome their situations builds quietly until it hits like a tsunami crashing into shore. Recommended for people who like reading about real people rather than pawns in a manipulative plot.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Effie on March 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
'The Blank Wall' reads brilliantly as a suspense novel, but I was as much captured by Elizabeth Sanxay Holding's deft characterisation as by the twists and turns of the plot.

Lucia Holley, separated from her husband by WWII and running her family home alone, is horrified when her daughter Bee becomes romantically involved with an unsavoury young man. However, when she attempts to part the couple, events quickly begin to spiral out of her control.

Murder and blackmail aside, 'The Blank Wall' also operates as a convincing portrait of the relationship between mother and daughter.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan E. Adams on December 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
As noted in the title this review is only for The Blank Wall. I read the novella in a collection (not this book).

Rarely have I encountered a fictional character as feckless and annoying as Lucia Holley, the protagonist of this story. (So, annoying that I felt compelled to write this review to warn other potential readers.) I repeatedly wanted to slap this weak, vacillating woman and tell her to snap out of it. The situation is that it is during World War II and Lucia lives near a lake with her father, and teenage children, Bee and David while husband Tom is somewhere off in the Pacific doing things unknown. Bee is the teenager to end all teenagers, self-centered in the extreme. David has all the makings of a snob/ officious twit and no doubt will grow up to be self-satisfied and over bearing. Lucia allows herself to be swept up in the dumbest blackmail scheme of all time. (Note to blackmailers: Don't raise your asking price before you get dollar one from your victim ... it gives away that you won't honor your part of the bargain.) I suppose the characters are well drawn and this is a rare story of the Home Front written shortly after World War II, but that is about all the story has going for it.
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