Page 134 - PB Cat 1999-2021
P. 134

  William Orpen, ‘Night’, 1907
This is a first for us: a novel which has been entirely overlooked and yet is by a well-known writer whose novels are mostly in print with other publishers (for example The Enchanted April and Vera). In Expiation a ‘happily married’ woman, living in a respectable south London suburb, has been cut out of her late husband’s will. He had apparently discovered that she had ‘sinned’ every Wednesday afternoon. (This is not a plot spoiler, the readers discovers this early on.) Her husband’s family the Botts (‘so financially sound, so continually increasing in prosperity...
Endpapers taken from a 1924-5 silk and rayon used on a day dress. Fabric in a private collection.
They subscribed, presided, spoke, opened’) are mystified and appalled; Milly Bott herself has to decide what to do. Expiation is hugely enjoyable and laugh-out-loud funny as it forensically explores the effects of her behaviour. The reviews were universally positive. Elizabeth’s nephew Sydney Waterlow wrote to her : ‘In my opinion Expiation is quite the top of your form.There is that in it which I admire most, and which I miss in all other writers practically now – power, clean and economical.There is increasing tension and excitement – and what certainty of touch.’
 NO 133
384pp PERSEPHONE BOOKS ISBN 9781910263235

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