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They Knew Mr Knight

by Dorothy Whipple
Persephone book no:

18 19 20

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The Far Cry
A Well Full of Leaves
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ISBN 9781903155080

A Book Society Choice, shortlisted for the Femina-Vie Heureuse Prize, the second Dorothy Whipple novel we publish is also wonderfully well-written in a clear and straightforward style; yet 'this real treat' (Sunday Telegraph) is far more subtle than it at first appears.

The Blakes are an ordinary family: Celia looks after the house and Thomas works at the family engineering business in Trentham, a lightly disguised Nottingham. The book begins when he meets Mr Knight, a financier as crooked as any on the front pages of our newspapers nowadays; and tracks his and his family's swift climb and fall.

Part of the cause of the ensuing tragedy is Celia's innocence - blinkered by domesticity, she and her children are the 'victim of the turbulence of the outside world' (Postscript); but finally, through 'quiet tenacity and the refusal to let go of certain precious things, goodness does win out' (Afterword). And the TLS wrote: 'The portraits in the book are fired by Mrs Whipple's article of faith - the supreme importance of people.'


A striking block-print in sombre colours, the fabric has some of the hard-edged quality of machinery; yet the leaves and flowers evoke the large garden by which Celia is so fatally tempted.

Picture Caption

Police Court by Frederick Elwell, 1938 © Beverley Art Gallery

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