Greenbanks by Dorothy Whipple

Greenbanks was my Persephone Secret Santa gift from Danielle way back in December. It was exactly what I wanted and I was so happy to get it, but then I put it on my bedside table and didn’t even think about it again until a few weeks ago when I was searching for a really good domestic novel to get lost in. Greenbanks fit the bill splendidly.

It tells the story of the Ashton family and is set before, during and a few years after the Great War. We see their world through the eyes of several of the female members of the family and it is mostly painful and baffling for them. They deal with adulterous spouses, missed romantic connections, death, financial worries and everyday heartbreak. The Ashton matriarch, Louisa, firmly holds on to her ideals during each and every challenge and is the backbone for her children and especially for her granddaughter, Rachel.

This novel is quiet and unassuming. The writing isn’t fancy and there aren’t any impressive lyrical passages. It is solid, wonderfully solid, storytelling and a very real and believable tale about families. Most of the characters are flawed and broken, just as are those of us who are reading their story and that made me like the novel even more. I also enjoyed the inclusion of little domestic details such as the descriptions of meal preparation, knitting and embroidery projects, interior design decisions and wardrobe choices.

I hope this doesn’t make it sound like a sweet or sappy novel because it isn’t at all. It is moving and thoughtful and I look forward to reading more novels by Dorothy Whipple. Have you read her novels? Which one do you recommend?

Go here to read a fascinating talk about Dorothy Whipple and the allure of her writing.

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12 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I’ve read reviews of her books on several different blogs. I hadn’t heard of her before, but the reviews have all been so positive that I’ve made a note to look for her books. This book sounds like a good starting place.

  2. I’ve read two Dorothy Whipples and enjoyed them very much. I think you would like The Priory, which is my favourite – another story about a family, and very well told.

  3. I’ve read this one and High Wages and I loved them both. But I’ve read so much good about all her books that I’m inclined to say you’re safe picking up any of them that come your way

    1. Yes, I think she is a reliable author from what I’ve read. It sounds like she’ll always provide an enjoyable experience. I think I’ll try The Priory next.

  4. I have never read Dorothy Whipple, thanks so much for the introduction. I love Persephone editions and bought a few when I was in London. The store is charming and the books are beautiful. I will now seek out a book by Dorothy Whipple. Thank you for the recommendation!

    1. I dream of visiting the Persephone bookshop! I’m planning my first trip to London for next September and a visit to Persephone is a high priority.
      Dorothy Whipple is really a fantastic author – I can’t wait to explore more of her novels!

  5. I really enjoyed her much later book Someone at a Distance, which was published in 1953 I think. It sounds like Greenbanks would be right up my street, thanks.

    1. I tried to read Someone at a Distance a while back and didn’t appreciate it. I’d like to try again now that I’ve had a good experience with Whipple.

Thank you for reading and commenting.

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