Habits of the House

To be released 19 July

Jenny Diski writes:

What is there to write about in the period 1914 to 1923 other than the marriage problems of the landed aristocracy, their household servants, the war, suffragettes, and the prior sinking of the Titanic? Original thought is not a requirement. Even if you shift the period back a few years, as Fay Weldon has done in Habits of the House, there is still the great tottering pile, inheritance and marriage problems, the chorus of wise and anxious servants living life below but watching life above, a big ship (the Oceania), and a Boer rather than a Great War. Although Weldon does add the falling value of land and new wealth from trade and banking to the promised decline of class, certainty and empire, the slightly varied period retains the same enervated central theme as Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs. It’s just that in Habits of the House, nothing is ever going to be the same again even before nothing is ever going to be the same again.

(LRB 21 June 2012)

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