E.F. Benson’s novel makes a good change of pace. It’s a simple story, not too complex in terms of plot or description. Yet, he’s very good at subtle humor and satire, which is interspersed throughout the text. It’s like watching an episode of Cranford
and Lark Rise to Candleford
At times, Benson’s descriptions can be rather blunt in their frankness…and quite evil. Take this description of Mrs. Ames: “In appearance, she was like a small, good-looking toad in half-mourning “If he brushed it back it revealed an excess of high, vacant-looking forehead; if he let it drop over his forehead, though his resemblance to seaweed increased also.” ;)
The story basically follows a woman—Mrs. Evans—, who at age thirty-seven has reached her midlife crisis and desires to reawaken her youth—by pursuing a married man: Major Ames. Though through her machinations, she gains two devoted followers—both father and son, though it’s only the father who manages to stir her soul…. The irony comes into play through the description of Mrs. Evans’ choice of beau: Major Ames. And those little intimate moments between the two love birds…it’s truly wonderful.
Certainly a weighty dramatic subject, though in Benson’s capable hands it becomes a light comedy. Really good and a lot of fun, so glad I won this.
My only qualm, however, is the cover, which is a bit deceptive. It shows silhouettes of four ladies, dressed in 1920s garb. However, this book was published in 1912 and takes place around that era. So instead of picturing Gatsby, think of the second half of [b:A Room With a View with its close-knit English hamlet.