'A very good novel indeed about the fragility and also the tenacity of love' commented the "Spectator" about this 1953 novel by Dorothy Whipple, which was ignored fifty years ago because 'editors are going mad for action and passion' (as she was told by her publisher). But this last novel by a writer whose books had previously been bestsellers is outstandingly good by any standards. Apparently 'a fairly ordinary tale about the destruction of a happy marriage' (Nina Bawden in the Preface) yet 'it makes compulsive reading' in its description of an ordinary family ('Ellen was that unfashionable creature, a happy housewife') struck by disaster when the husband, in a moment of weak, mid-life vanity, runs off with a French girl.Dorothy Whipple is a superb stylist, with a calm intelligence in the tradition of Mrs Gaskell (both wrote in the "Midlands" and had similar preoccupations). 'The prose is simple, the psychology spot on' said the "Telegraph", and John Sandoe Books commented: 'We have all delighted in this unjustly forgotten novel; it is well written and compelling'.
Born in 1893, DOROTHY WHIPPLE (nee Stirrup) had an intensely happy childhood in Blackburn as part of the large family of a local architect. Her close friend George Owen having been killed in the first week of the war, for three years she worked as secretary to Henry Whipple, an educational administrator who was a widower twenty-four years her senior and whom she married in 1917. Their life was mostly spent in Nottingham; here she wrote Young Anne (1927), the first of nine extremely successful novels which included Greenbanks (1932) and The Priory (1939). Almost all her books were Book Society Choices or Recommendations and two of them, They Knew Mr Knight (1934) and They were Sisters (1943), were made into films. She also wrote short stories and two volumes of memoirs. Someone at a Distance (1953) was her last novel. Returning in her last years to Blackburn, Dorothy Whipple died there in 1966.