Greenbanks

There was a time when the only reading I would have done on a “romantic” weekend in Brighton would have been the occasional menu and cocktail list.

But the peace and quiet that comes with your children being 50 miles away (safely holed up with my mother-in-law, I should add) is too good an opportunity to miss, especially when you have a really engrossing book in your bag.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had spent most of a recent visit to the south coast with my head buried in a book – well, the book’s name was Greenbanks and I loved it so much that I would find any excuse to go back to our room so I could pick it up again.

I even read it in the car, which says a lot because ordinarily even trying to read a map while in the passenger seat because it makes me sick. It’s one of those…

Written by Dorothy Whipple and first published in 1932, Greenbanks is the story of a middle-class family around World War I, populated by wonderful female characters like the matriarch Louisa and males like the insufferably self-important Ambrose.

It’s both funny – especially in puncturing Ambrose’s pretensions – and also at times unbearably sad; it’s a domestic drama but laced with social commentary; and the characterisation is perfect, with a cast that live with you even after you’ve finished the book.

In fact, the only real shame is that (rather like our weekend in Brighton) it had to come to an end.

However, even that wasn’t without its upside. On my return to London I emailed Persephone Books, the publishers who rescued after many years out of print and who had recommended it to me in the first place.

And they kindly sent me some other recommendations, one of which I have already read and loved and the others I am saving for a very long – and not child-free! - flight to Australia…