I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Victoria is a young girl in her early 20s, living in a large Italian villa with an old blind man ‘of letters’ being his eyes as it were. She is desperate for an escape from this life, but also does not want to return home to her alcoholic mother. She sees Edgar, a visitor to the villa, as her escape route.
She soon marries Edgar and moves back to England. This causes new problems as now she has to contend with Lettice, Edgar’s annoying, snobbish mother. As the story develops we see the battle of wills between Lettice and Victoria increase, each time giving the reader more delight.
Lettice is the front runner for the worst mother-in-law prize. She is determined to put Victoria in her place, which is very low down on the list, at every opportunity. However she is equally rude to her neighbours and others whom she deems are on the same social footing as her and her family. To give you an idea of what Lettice is like, one of her offspring prefers boarding school to home and two of them have joined religious ‘communities’ which require them to be cut off from her!
This is a darkly comic book. I didn’t think that Lettice, Victoria or some of the other characters were particularly likeable but that in this instance was the appeal of the book. I found myself looking forward to Lettice’s acerbic missives and put downs and seeing how Victoria and others unlucky enough to face them dealt with such interactions.
The language used was highly effective. Susanna Johnston transported me back to the 1950s. I felt I should have been reading the book dressed in Capri pants and Audrey Hepburn glasses whilst sipping on a Martini.
Speaking about the book on Twitter Margaret Madden, a fellow blogger, said she felt like she was watching theatre when she read this book and I have to agree. Arcadia, the publisher, said it was ‘pure escapism in vintage form’ and again I can only agree.
This a delightful story and should you choose to read it you are in for a treat.