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Someone at a Distance (Persephone Classics) Paperback – December 31, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

<DIV>Born in 1893 in Lancashire, England, Dorothy Whipple wrote nine extremely successful novels, two of which were made into films. She also wrote short stories and two volumes of memoirs. She died in 1966. Nina Bawden is the celebrated author of Carrie's War, Peppermint Pig, and The Witch's Daughter, among others. A number of her works have been dramatized by BBC Children's television. She currently lives in London and Nauplion, Greece.</DIV>
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Product Details

  • Series: Persephone Classics
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Persephone Books; Revised edition (December 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906462003
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906462000
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.4 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #849,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jay Dickson VINE VOICE on December 28, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dorothy Whipple has been one of the authors Persephone Books has been most proud to re-dsicover, and the beautifully sharp prose in this 1950s novel will alert you immediately why she's been a favorite. Yet for all that the novel is bit of a disappointment. The plot seems reminsicent of Clare Booth Luce's THE WOMEN: a noble-minded wealthy married woman loses her weak and contempible husband to the clutches of a stylish and spiteful vixen, while her daughter suffers tremendously and her friends cluck and sympathize. Some of the characters are also quite hard to take. Anne, the sickeningly adorable daughter, carries on so much when her father is caught with the French interloper, Louise, that you begin to develop a perverse delight in her unhappiness; and all the male characters are wholly two-dimensional weaklings. With the older women characters, however, Whipple seems right on the money. The heroine, Ellen, is perhaps a bit too noble but is also observed with sympathy and skill, and Louise, the clear villain, is surprisingly well-drawn too. Whipple's ability to turn a memorable phrase is also consistent throughout.
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Format: Paperback
A marriage of over two decades is in danger, and the culprit seems to be the groom's own mother. "Someone at a Distance" is the story of Ellen and Avery North, a happily married couple with two children; all seems well with their life. But when Avery's mother arranges for a French girl to become a companion for him, it incites a long and confusing turmoil for everyone involved. Composed in an enthralling and realistic manner, "Someone at a Distance" is a must read story about the end of marital bliss.
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Format: Paperback
Dorothy Whipple's Someone at a Distance is a very complicated novel to write about. It's the story of the Norths, a suburban couple with two teenage children. Avery North's aging mother engages a young Frenchwoman as her companion, and he develops an attachment to her that develops into an affair and later leads to divorce from his wife Ellen. This novel is a stunning book about the wide-ranging effects an affair can have on several families.

Dorothy Whipple's language is very simple. Her prose is uncomplicated, yet there's a lot of meaning behind it. Her upper-middle-class English characters are all absorbed in their own mundane lives, until the arrival of Louise literally shakes them all up. Louise is obviously not meant to be a sympathetic character (unlike Ruth in Susan Glaspell's Fidelity); and at times she devolves into the stereotypical "other woman." Much more preferable is Ellen, the sensible English housewife who finds her life shattered during the after the divorce.

It's a sad subject, yet there are some truly funny moments; the surly Miss Daley going postal on Louise is an example that comes to mind. So in the end, each of the characters get what they deserve--even Avery, towards whom I feel a bit ambivalent. I feel as though he simply sat back and let things happen to him, rather than be an active member of the cast of characters.

It's interesting that I've chosen to read this book now, so shortly after reading another Persephone title, Fidelity--it's the story of an extramarital affair as told from the conventional point of view. Despite my feelings towards Avery and Louise, I though many of the other characters were well-drawn.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Of the three Dorothy Whipple books I have read this was the weakest. It's very Mrs. Minivar but still quaint in that it's of its time. It was published in 1953 and life is getting hard for the middleclass, not too many live in maids and the daily chars are making the rules!!
I agree with the reviewer who said the daughter is a pain in the neck, and also agree on it's similarities to The Women but overall it's not a bad book. The story may not be original but she is a beautiful writer and it was still a better read than most of what is on the current NYT best seller list.
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By anna on December 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
I must say that Dorothy Whipple is an undeservedly neglected writer, and we must be grateful to Persephone Books for rescuing her from obscurity. That said, I enjoyed this much less than other books of hers such as 'They Were Sisters' and 'The Priory'. Characterisation is usually Whipple's strong point but here the characters are largely pasteboard, two-dimensional creatures: Ellen, the virtuous, betrayed wife, Avery, the weak, charming husband, Louise, the calculating femme fatale. The two teenage children too, are amusingly free of adolescent vices. Nevertheless, one reads on, wanting to know how all fare in the end. However, for a book with a similar theme, but infinitely more subtle and nuanced, I would suggest Elizabeth Jenkins' The Tortoise and the Hare', an acutely perceptive, beautifully observed and exquisitely written book on a disintegrating marriage.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
At first I thought this was going to be an old fashion, kind of fluffy piece of fiction, but there is a lot going on in this book. The writing is excellent and the author imparts a lot of wisdom about marriage and relationships. The book is really an anatomy of an affair. How a seemly innocent flirtation can develop into a disastrous life decision. The book is also about forgiveness. I thought it was well worth the read.
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