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A House in the Country

by Jocelyn Playfair
Persephone book no:

30 31 32

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The Far Cry
A Well Full of Leaves
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ISBN 9781903155202

The Daily Mail called this 1944 novel 'an elegiac romance that describes social niceties, petty squabbles, self-restraint, all played out in a rural idyll, while abroad thousands die defending that very way of life.' The great interest of Jocelyn Playfair's book for modern readers is its complete authenticity. Set at the time of the fall of Tobruk in 1942, one of the low points of the war, and written only a year later when noone had any idea which way the war was going, A House in the Country has a verisimilitude denied to modern writers. Sebastian Faulks in Charlotte Gray or Ian McEwan in Atonement do their research and evoke a particular period, but ultimately are dependent on their own and historians' interpretation of events; whereas a novel like this one is an exact, unaffected portrayal of things as they were at the time. The TLS praised 'its evocation of the preoccupations of wartime England, and its mood of battered but sincere optimism'; and The Tablet remarked on its 'compelling atmosphere and richly apt vocabulary.'


The endpapers show a 1942 Jacqmar scarf that was owned by a Persephone reader's mother; the indefatigable gardener at 'Brede Manor' is a symbolic figure in the book.

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Categories: Country Life Woman and Home WWII

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