The main reason why I loved Mary McCarthy’s The Group
was the fact that it was so true to life. In some ways, Dodie Smith’s story is just like it. Smith does not describe a flowery tale of London theatre life...everything all buttons and bows. She is really honest and at times her honesty is quite brutal. Her story is not just about theatre life, but life in general...young girls exposed to life’s realities. What I really found interesting was that some of the things Smith is describing are still relevant today. When Mouse describes her life at the girls Club and her relationships with Lillian, Zelle and Molly, I felt as if I was reliving my experiences at the girls’ high school I attended: those so-called “best friends” always backstabbing each other...making up stories and inflating the truth...doing so because of a need to fulfill a certain “moral” duty. I remember thinking it was so stupid. Yet I always loved witnessing those reconciliation moments...all of the arguing and crying that always ended with a hug. Dodie Smith does the same here, yet minus all of the melodrama. Here, the reconciliation moments are more sober—yet they ring true.
I really liked how this story is told. It has that Great Expectations
feel. Like Pip, our main character, Mouse is recollecting her past...reflecting, trying to understand and make sense of how the events of the past have affected her in the present day. How much has she changed, is she still the same. Her conclusions are interesting, but I don’t know if I entirely agree with them. On the surface, Mouse is portrayed as one of those young innocents, but I couldn’t help but get the feeling that she has one of those dark streaks as well.
All said, Smith wrote an intriguing take on one of those developmental novels. I can’t wait to read more stories by Smith.