Kitty IV

Page 330 and I like the book more than I did yesterday.

When Kitty couldn't reach her husband (kidnapped by possessive mum) she made practical plans for looking after him when they got together again (as she was determined they would).

Her plans involve setting up a business, a tea-and-dancing place on the banks of the Thames. This brings out Deeping's best qualities as a novelist. Even in that creepy book Sorrell and Son, there's a lively relish when he gets to the specifics of running a hotel.  Deeping was alive to the poetry and excitement of the small business, and makes Kitty's practical enthusiasm infectious.

At the start of the book, he describes the tobacco-shop owned by Sarah's mother with respect and affection, too. Mrs Sarah's business sense and her ability to raise and educate her daughters are tha positives of the novel, in contrast to the chilly committee work of Alex's chilly mother (preachy gesture politics concerned mostly with banning other people's pleasures). More than that, the room behind her shop becomes a refuge for young officers who want to talk and relax in friendly company. A general calls it "More use than a trainload of padres" because it offers pleasant human company, with no pressure. Of course, when the evil puritan mother sees men going in there and staying for a while, she immediately assumes that it's a brothel. 

I'm reminded of the tobacco shop in Kipling's In the Interests of the Brethren , which is the portal to the Masonic lodge where the casualties of war are helped. The cure for Alex's shell-shock has a lot in common with Kipling's portrayals, too. I'll talk more about that in the next post.

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