There’s a formula to Dorothy Whipple books and it’s a winning formula – that’s why back in the 1940s and 1950s she was such a bestselling author, and that’s why the Persephone Books reprints of those novels continue to remain among the publishers’ bestselling novels today.
The latest, and penultimate, Persephone reprint of a Whipple is Because Of The Lockwoods, which follows Dorothy’s formula to the letter and with glorious success.
Our heroine Thea is the youngest daughter of the Hunter family, who sadly lost their father far too young and his death plunged them into relative poverty. They were patronised and pitied by the loathsome Lockwood family, who indulged the Hunters with contemptuous charity… thereby fostering growing hatred towards them by the Hunters, especially Thea.
In the classic Dorothy Whipple style, our heroine is served a great injustice by the hands of a seemingly powerful man, Mr Lockwood… and the book is spent with her resolving to wreak her revenge, see justice done and ultimately emerge the victor. It’s giving nothing away to say that Thea does just this… and in delicious fashion.
Because Of The Lockwoods takes us on a lengthy, but thoroughly enjoyable, journey from outer Manchester to rural France and back again. As with most Dorothy Whipple books, this is a real doorstopper of a book; chunky and weighty. But as with all Dorothy Whipple books, this is also a deeply enjoyable, page-turner of a hotwater bottle book.
I first read this book several years ago during a summer heatwave in a Somerset garden, and although I generally try not to read a book twice (if you’ve got time to read one book twice, you’ve got time to read two books – is my rule of thumb), Because Of The Lockwoods was equally, if not more so, delicious the second time.
Revenge, as Thea finds, is a dish best served cold (with a wintry reading).