Persephone Books #38
First published in 1932 by Hogarth Press
This edition published in 2011 by Persephone Books
Persephone Books, paperback, 119p.
It is a brisk English March day, and Dolly is getting ready to marry the wrong man. Waylaid by the sulking admirer who lost his chance, an astonishingly oblivious mother bustling around and making a fuss, and her own sinking dread, the bride-to-be struggles to reach the altar.
Well, this what not at all what I expected. After watching a few book reviews on YouTube, I was expecting to find a book seething with emotion, angst and drama - instead I got a story that centers around an oddball family as they muddle their way through the morning of Dolly Thatcham's wedding.
Dolly seems to float through the events under a haze of rum, and Joseph (the ex) hangs around the house like a stray dog, while her family is just tedious. Little sister Kitty is a gaudy, poor imitation of her beautiful elder sister, and is starting to become man crazy. The descriptions of her makeup alone would send any gentleman running in the opposite direction! Then you come across the terrible twosome - her brothers, Robert and Tom. Robert is continuously going on about Captain Blood, or telling his OCD brother, Tom, to "...go and put your head in a bag." as Tom continuously nags, and manhandles, his brother about changing his socks of all things! Very odd.
Mrs Thatcham is a disaster as organizer of the household during this stressful time. She mixed up her buffet orders, double books bedrooms (so to speak, but with funny results), and is oblivious to anything but the goal of marrying off her daughter.
In one of my favourite scenes, Joseph finally unloads on Mrs Thatchum in regards to what Dolly did last summer. It was probably made up, but there was almost a malicious hint of truth to parts of it that would have made a great addition, and twist, if the story had of been longer. We only see Owen, the groom, once and that is at the end when Dolly and Joseph were arguing alone in a room and he barges in at the wrong moment. There is such potential in this book and it is frustrating to see great moments fall by the wayside.
At only 119 pages, I sped through this. The writing was simple and straightforward, the plot uncomplicated, but that lack of emotion and drama - especially when the ex turns up desperate to speak with the bride before her wedding! - was strange. Where was the alcohol fueled rant from Dolly about her current situation? About her discovering that Joseph, the ex, was there? The wavering of courage and doubt about walking down the aisle? There was none of that.
So, while not what I was hoping for, CWFTW was still an entertaining way to spend an hour of so, and has me intrigued enough to track down a copy of the adaptation to see what the changed, and how they adapted this into a full length movie.
I'm not sure if I'll collect any more Persephone Books. They are crazy expensive, especially in Australia, but if you could recommend one last book I should buy what would it be? Leave a comment and let me know ;-D
And until next time,