Oh Persephone, how I love you. Your stylish dove grey covers, your vintage co-ordinating book marks and your wonderful collection of reading gems.
The Village was first published 1952 and then reprinted by Persephone in 2007. It’s the story of a group of characters living in the fictional village of Priory Dene. The story opens on the night the second world war ended. Mrs Wendy Trevor the wife of a Major and Mrs Edith Wilson the wife of a Van Driver are on duty together at the Red Cross. This sets the tone of the story. During the war women of different classes could work together as equals. Before the war Mrs Wilson had worked for Mrs Trevor as her ‘daily’. Despite their equal status during the war as soon as it ends the friendship and companionship these two women enjoyed also ends.
“Then they parted, Mrs Trevor going up the road to Wood View on Priory Hill where the gentry lived and Mrs Wilson going downhill on the other side, down Station Road among the working classes”
However, with the end of the war the old order of things are changing. Financially the working classes are in a better position than the gentry as they have jobs and earn enough money to given themselves a good life. As part of the gentry Mrs Trevor may live in the large house but her husband is unable to earn money and she has two daughters she cannot afford to support. She wants to marry her eldest daughter Margaret off to a wealthy gentleman but Margaret has different ideas. Margaret’s burgeoning relationship with a lower class village boy becomes the focus of this story. As various members of the village become aware of the relationship, opinions are expressed and there are some surprising reactions.
This is not a genteel domestic story, it’s a sharply observed social commentary with well crafted characters and a clever examination of complex class issues
Persephone books are beautiful on the inside and out. If you have the opportunity I certainly recommend you investigate them further.