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They Knew Mr. Knight
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They Knew Mr. Knight

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  131 ratings  ·  26 reviews
The Blakes are an ordinary family: Celia looks after the house and Thomas works at the family engineering business in Leicester. This book begins when he meets Mr Knight, a financier as crooked as any on the front pages of our newspapers nowadays; and tracks his and his family's swift climb and fall.
Paperback, 484 pages
Published 2000 by Persephone Books (first published 1934)
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This is a pitch-perfect period piece: middle class couple in their mid 40s, living in middle England, mid wars. It could have been hackneyed, or just dull, but it isn't - and it's beautifully written.

It opens with exquisite descriptions of the minor niggles of a slightly dull life; the precise annoyances being different for husband and wife, although the latter generally has a great "capacity for contentment". Each mundane thought and task (even shaving) sheds delicate light on the character inv
Dorothy Whipple is a mid-twentieth century novelist who is currently enjoying a renaissance of sorts as an author reissued by Persephone Books, a London based publishing venture that seems to have found a very comfortable niche breathing new life into forgotten and neglected mid-century fiction. Like many authors on the Persephone list, Whipple wrote mostly domestic fiction. Women are usually central in her books (although her male characters are as just as real and believable as the women) and ...more
Persephone publish 5 Dorothy Whipple books, four novels and one book of short stories, and it is easy to see why, her writing of families and their ups and downs their triumphs and disasters is brilliant. This is the third of the four novels re-published by Persephone that I have read. My favourite was They were Sisters, but this one is almost as good. I found it quite unputdownable really, it is nearly 500 pages long but I read it so quickly it din't feel as long as that.

Celia is an innocent,
This is my favorite Dorothy Whipple novel thus far. Enchanted from the first chapter on, I felt connected to these characters and looked forward every evening to reading about them and their lives. I was deeply moved by Miss Whipple's description of Celia's spiritual journey and I was in tears by the end of the book. Not tears of sadness but that wonderful feeling you get when an author beautifully captures an experience that you didn't think could be put into words. Miss Whipple did put it into ...more
What a fascinating read this was! In some ways I did not enjoy the storytelling aspecy of this novel as much as I have Dorothy Whipple's other novels, but an attempt to explore the nature of sin and a persional relationship with God provided much food for thought. These topics may now be considered deeply unfashionable as the theme of a novel but the afterword has sent me back to read The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macauley afresh. I am also reminded of the spiritual journeys undertaken by Eliz ...more
Another excellent family melodrama, with plot contours that are now familiar: the fall of a middle-class family; the testing of the bonds of family and marriage, and the walls that can sometimes exist between family members; the healing balm of nature, particularly the English countryside, etc. The strong central middle-aged female character, Celia, is a sister to Ellen in Someone at a Distance and Lucy in They Were Sisters. This story also touched on issues of the day, principally the failure o ...more
This is the fourth Whipple I've read, and it seemed to me the weakest. It's like a cross between Someone at a Distance and The Priory. I've seen this calm wife and mother with a grounded spiritual awareness before, and this neurotic young girl. It didn't feel enough like a book with its own identity and reality. It's still compulsively readable, but not quite in the same way. I never really believed in the Mr Knight storyline, and generally menacing her people and bringing them up and down is wh ...more
I originally gave this four stars. However, the sublime and wholly unexpected turn of the tale at its conclusion was truly remarkable.
Linda K
Reading Dorothy Whipple is like being invited into a home, meeting all the family, taking interest in their lives, being glad for them and sad for them and sorry when you have to leave their home.

She is certainly not the world's most exciting author, nor the one with the most lavish of descriptions. But, she has a way of writing that makes me want to read on and on. I really feel for the characters.

Mr. Knight is a wealthy businessman who befriends Mr. Blake who is married with 3 children. Blake
This story could so have been written today.
To speculate and to end up losing it all.
We all want the good life but it comes at a cost.
Dorothy Whipple writes so well and I enjoyed this one.
I'm so glad that Persephone have re printed a few of her wonderful books.
Good that a new generation can enjoy them.
I couldn't put it down.
This is my favorite Dorothy Whipple novel thus far. Enchanted from the first chapter on, I felt connected to these characters and looked forward every evening to reading about them and their lives. I was deeply moved by Miss Whipple's description of Celia's spiritual journey and I was in tears by the end of the book. Not tears of sadness but that wonderful feeling you get when an author beautifully captures an experience that you didn't think could be put into words. Miss Whipple did put it into ...more
This is the story of an middle class English family who fall under the influence of a bigger than life financier. It is also morality tale about the corrupting effects of greed and is as relevant today as it was when it was published in 1934.

This is the 5th Dorothy Whipple book I have read, and it is certainly one of her best. She creates very sympathetic characters, particularly women, and compelling plots. I can never put her books down and finish them with a regret that I have come to the end
Helen Kitson
Fascinating portrait of a family as it goes up in the world. Mr Knight is Satan, the tempter. Thomas initially just wants his birthright, his father's factory, but he gets greedy. Celia occasionally has spiritual yearnings, but the resolution of these is unclear - she finds her role, it was a role (traditional housewife, the glue that holds the family together) she always had and enjoyed, so there's no real change to an extent that seems to warrant the spiritual ecstasies. [April 2004]
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Jul 09, 2012 Hol added it
After finishing John Lanchester’s family memoir I couldn’t find anything that looked like a worthy follow-up, so I reread Miss Buncle’s Book (fun!) and then turned to this Persephone, which I’ve been hoarding for at least a year. It was a vivid and engrossing read, though it took a brief and unexpected turn toward the religious at the very end, alas, after several hundred pages of satisfyingly concrete storytelling.
This like all Whipple's books was eminently readable...however throughout, I got the feeling I was reading Trollope's "The Way We Live Now", a book I enjoyed tremendously...both books deal with the rise and fall of families greedy for money, but Trollpoe's title makes his book timeless, it is we who create our own destinies...Whipple puts the tragedy of her book squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Knight.
Great read by a long ago British author. Found her through a cousin of mine who has quiet a library at his home. This book may take place in the years leading up to 1934 but it is a cautionary tale that has not lost it's punch over the decades. Have a few more Whipple books in my stack, looking forward to them!

What struck me really is the brilliant way Whipple weaves the nuances of all the different relationships within the family. How each member copes with the circumstances surrounding their rise from poverty to privilege and back again to destitution.

I LOVED it:)
I wasn't sure about this one at first, but it grew on me. Set in an industrial town in 1930s northern England, it describes the effects on an ordinary middle-class family when the father begins to speculate in increasingly shady financial dealings.
Really well-written, layered, and pretty depressing, especially to me as someone who managed to climb out of lower-middle-class poverty. The whole sequence with the beloved house broke my heart.
Huge Whipple fan, but wasn't so enamored of this one. Part of the problem is that I could see the crisis really early on and it made me a little impatient waiting for it to happen.
Kellie Marnoch
Love all Dorothy Whipple's books. They Knew Mr Night is not my favourite but it is still a great book about a family's (social) rise and fall and (moral) fall and rise.
Dorothy Whipple is now one of my favorite writers.
Susan Abbott
I love Persephone Books and this one did not disappoint.
Kasey Jueds
A deeply satisfying old-fashioned novel.
Austen to Zafón
Jul 21, 2011 Austen to Zafón marked it as to-read
Shelves: to-buy
Why: Persephone title
Virginia Birnbaum
Virginia Birnbaum marked it as to-read
May 01, 2015
Monica marked it as to-read
May 01, 2015
Priyanka Gupta
Priyanka Gupta marked it as to-read
Apr 29, 2015
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Born in 1893, DOROTHY WHIPPLE (nee Stirrup) had an intensely happy childhood in Blackburn as part of the large family of a local architect. Her close friend George Owen having been killed in the first week of the war, for three years she worked as secretary to Henry Whipple, an educational administrator who was a widower twenty-four years her senior and whom she married in 1917. Their life was mos ...more
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Someone at a Distance The Priory They Were Sisters High Wages Greenbanks

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