Ali's Reviews > The Closed Door and Other Stories

The Closed Door and Other Stories by Dorothy Whipple
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Mar 18, 12

it was amazing
Read from March 17 to 18, 2012


Short stories are a funny genre – they seem to either loved or loathed – I sort of fall somewhere in between. I generally find modern short stories a disappointment – that is probably a bit of a generalisation I am sure there would be some I enjoy – however I do tend to steer clear of them. So many short stories written today seem to be a bit too clever by half, and suffering a bit of style over substance, the endings so often, leave me at least, with a vague feeling of dissatisfaction. I do however find what one might call ‘old fashioned’ short stories a complete delight. Just before Christmas I read a book of short stories by Stella Gibbons, for me the simple well written stories were wonderful.
Having already read five of the six Dorothy Whipple novels re-published by the divine Persephone books – I looked forward eagerly to these stories – wishing before I had even begun reading that is was a fatter book. Like so many women writers of her generation Dorothy Whipple presents the worlds inhabited by her characters in a way that is instantly recognisable and familiar even at a distance of eighty years. Hers is a society in which a wife’s adultery means a ruined life, deemed unfit to have custody of her children she may see them once a month. A daughter is unquestioningly obedient to her parents – even If they are unreasonable or even cruel – she owes them that obedience, to do otherwise is unthinkable.
Many of the themes encountered in her novels are present in these wonderful stories. Marriage, society and family, the so often fragile veneer of middle class respectability. Not all the people in her stories are nice – some are downright horrid – many are sad, allowing life to pass them by. Yet Whipple treats them with affection – their flaws often bringing them to a better understanding.
The title story – The Closed Door – is by far the longest story in this collection – and one I found both sad and compelling. It is the story of an unwanted daughter and the suffocation of her life by her dreadful parents. Dorothy Whipple can also be darkly comic too however, as in the stories ‘Handbag’ and ‘After tea’ I have been trying to decide if I had a favourite in this collection – but I am not sure that I do – I loved each of them for different reasons. Overall it is Dorothy Whipple’s eye for detail and minute observations of life that I enjoy most. Her writing has a wonderful subtlety about it – pared down to the bone – she isn’t a writer to labour a point – it is clear and uncomplicated. It does appear that she has been over looked in the past. But I believe she was a wonderful writer and I thank goodness for Persephone for bringing her work to a wider audience.
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message 1: by Sara (new) - added it

Sara Thanks, Ali, she sounds like a writer I should check out!


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