Portrait of a Family, by Richmal Crompton

I read in the paper that Richmal Crompton, as well as writing all the William books, wrote adult fiction too. And that some of this was now available - so I bought this one on Kindle.

The story followed the lives of various members of a family and their relationships and histories, both spoken and unspoken. It was very nicely written: I don't think I'd have guessed the author had I not known, but there are definite resonances with the style you get in the William books.

Some quotes I highlighted:

As she knelt on hands and knees on the bare floor, her sleeves rolled up to the elbows, scrubbing the linoleum, she was two people. One of them was scrubbing the floor of the spare bedroom - working like a slave for the husband who neglected her - the other stood aside and watched with indignant pity... She remembered that her sister Violet was coming to tea, but she did not hurry over the work on that account. She rather prolonged it. She wanted Violet to find her on her knees scrubbing the spare-room floor like this.
A child who's treated badly by his parents:
Often he dreamt now that he had stolen things - ridiculous things like feathers or pokers, or even once a camel - and that policemen had come to t ake him to prison. He would wake up gasping and sobbing in a terror that would lie over his spirit all day.
Someone with depression:
Rachel went upstairs and began to turn out drawers in her bedroom with feverish energy, marshalling in a sort of ghostly array all the people who hated her. Frank, first of all, who didn't care how unhappy she was, and went off without even saying good-bye to her.... Jonatham, who had gone to school without kissing her.... Barbara, who had wriggled impatiently out of her embrace.... Joy, who was jealous of her children, and told her in public that she didn't give them enough sleep.... Frank's father, who openly humiliated her by his affectionate manner to Olivia.... Olivia, with her maddening air of aloofness, avoiding her whenever she could.... Mrs. Dunton, who had asked her to her second bridge drive instead of her first.... Mrs. Handley, who had asked Violet to bring her to tea, instead of ringing up and asking her in person.... Mrs. Marret, who had told her that a book she had praised was badly written...
I think in that section, you know the facts behind her complaints and they're not at all as deliberate as Rachel feels.

It was a lovely book to read, and I ordered some more.

Completed : 12-May-2017

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