Marriage, morality, and mischief
Tension is a story about self-righteousness and the catastrophic results of imposing someone’s debatable morality on others.
Our thanks to British Library Publishing for the advanced reader’s copy.
Print Length: 175 pages
Publisher: British Library Publishing (13 May 2021)
ISBN-10 : 0712353933
“I know that things of that kind always are known, and the people I’ve been thrown with, sooner or later, always turned out to have heard the story. Or if they hadn’t,” said Miss Marchrose in a voice of calm despair, “someone took the trouble to tell them.”
Miss Marchrose is about to discover that she cannot escape her past when she takes up a new position at a secretarial college in the south west of England. Following insinuations dropped by the director’s wife, she becomes the subject of a whispering campaign which threatens her professional career and personal happiness.
From the Publisher’s Blurb
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Edna, Lady Lassiter, was in a feelingless marriage with Sir Julian, a man ten years her senior whose take on life was to stay away from all possible drama, especially when coming from his wife.
Frustrated with her irresponsive husband, Edna tried to fulfill her idle life by helping others reach her enlightenment level.
When a young and competent woman, Pauline Marchrose, came to work at the charity college run by the Lassiters, Edna felt threatened. She did anything in her power to ruin Pauline’s reputation and get rid of the newcomer.
Edna’s obliviousness to her flaws, her conviction in her rectitude, and her misguided belief in the good cause behind her actions made her an extraordinary character.
Pauline was also a complex character. On one side, she was competent, hard-working, and loyal, but on the other, she was self-centered and naive.
The side characters were, except for Mr. Fuller, weak-willed or, at least, indifferent. Several people, including Sir Julian, saw precisely what Lady Lassiter’s intentions were and chose not to get involved or outright join the moral squad.
The end was surprising and, in my opinion, perfect. I felt that Pauline probably ended up being the happiest of them all.
In the background, several relevant subjects were discussed: (a) the involuntary (and definitive) admission of women to mental institutions (in the book, due to alcoholism); (b) the delicate position held by women in the workplace and the double standards to which they were submitted in comparison to their male coworkers; and also, (c) the entitlement of the elites and their patronizing and prejudiced behavior toward the working class.
Overall, Tension was a great story, an intriguing view of the English society in the 20s. I read it all in one sit!
The book is part of the beautiful Women Writers Series published by the British Library. I had the opportunity of reading several titles in this series and highly recommend them all.
Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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About the Author
Edmée Elizabeth Monica Dashwood, née de la Pasture (9 June 1890 – 2 December 1943), commonly known as E. M. Delafield, was a prolific English author who is best-known for her largely autobiographical Diary of a Provincial Lady, which took the form of a journal of the life of an upper-middle class Englishwoman living mostly in a Devon village of the 1930s, and its sequels in which the Provincial Lady buys a flat in London and travels to America. Other sequels of note are her experiences looking for war-work during the Phoney War in 1939, and her experiences as a tourist in the Soviet Union.