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Peter Curtis & Juliet Astley > Lady Living Alone

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message 1: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (Peggy908) | 573 comments Just finished a re-read of this book and since Penelope Shadow is an author, it seemed there were some parallels with Norah Lofts' success as an author.

For instance, Penelope's first book was not a great success but "Mexican Flower" became very successful and boosted the sales of previous books. She struggled for years to reach success.

This is a lovely bit from page 13: "Spiritually, she was still an eccentric, not quite at ease in any world of other people's making; she was romantic, too--or how should she have flung those nets of enchantment and drawn back people long since dead and shown them living and loving again."

Isn't that a marvelous statement--nets of enchantment? It's the essence of what NL did with such great success in her historical novels.


message 2: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 20, 2011 06:43PM) (new)

Great idea to start this folder Peggy.


message 3: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (Peggy908) | 573 comments Alice,

I am sorry that my first post was not too clear; Penelope Shadow is a character who is an author in "Lady Living Alone."

I remember a short story in "Hauntings" where one of the characters was a writer; the story was "A Visit to Claudia." Does anyone recall any other characters from NL's books who were writers?


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Well, I have read Lady Living Alone but I didn't remember that at all. Of course the main one that comes to mind for me is Deb in Gad's Hall. Somehow I always think of her as being like Norah Lofts.

In White Hell of Pity the little girl/heroine is trying to learn to write but never has any time as she has to work so hard. She falls in love with a writer.


message 5: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (Peggy908) | 573 comments Alice, of course, Deb, how could I forget? My mind was just drawing a blank. I haven't read White Hell of Pity yet.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Peggy wrote: "Alice, of course, Deb, how could I forget? My mind was just drawing a blank. I haven't read White Hell of Pity yet."

I warn you its extremely sad. Its probably one of NL saddest books. I noticed you are going to read a Laura Hillenbrand book. I really liked her book Seabiscuit. I don't know if I can read this next one but will be very interested to hear what you think of it. I tried to read Fly Boys but couldn't do it.

White Hell of Pity


message 7: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (Peggy908) | 573 comments Doing another re-read of Lady Living Alone and being struck all over again by the wit of Norah Lofts! For instance,

"And Agnes was in the painful process of changing what passed as her mind. . ."

Lofts' "modern" books contains lots of these little gems. Some of us have mentioned that we don't enjoy the modern books as much as her historical fiction but this one can stand on its own merits for sure. I always find something fresh when I re-read them.


message 8: by Debbie (new)

Debbie | 47 comments Does Lady Living Alone have another name? I can't seem to find it in my collection.


message 9: by Peggy (last edited Apr 20, 2012 06:43PM) (new)

Peggy (Peggy908) | 573 comments I don't think it has another name. It was first printed in 1945 under the author name of Peter Curtis. My copy is a Doubleday issue from 1985 that I picked up either in a used bookstore or Ebay.

It's set in England in the 1930's. The main character Penelope is an author. The title comes from her fear of living alone (being alone in a house). This was a theme from a short story in Hauntings as well. I hope you can find a copy.


message 10: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (Peggy908) | 573 comments Hi, everyone posting about Lady Living Alone on the beauty thread - if you've got further thoughts about the book in general, let's share.

Did anybody find Terry a very sympathetic character at the start and then become surprised at the way their relationship went? Or did you think they would start to grow apart as he matured?

Did anybody else really dislike the doctor? And did you recognize the theme of the maid who was deaf/hard of hearing? I think NL uses deafness quite a bit in her books.


message 11: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (SylviaB) | 982 comments I just finished reading this book for the first time, and enjoyed it verry much. I did expect a few of the plot twists, especially of Terry marrying Peneloper to "get on" and then possibly tiring of her. He was 15 years younger than her! I also expected her to lose her phobia by the end.

Peggy, when Dr. Carter first made his feelings known about Penelope, I thought to myself, doctors are just human beings (even though we hold them up on high pedestals) and not having time to get to know all of their patients, they probably make a lot of snap judgements. But I was very relieved when he changed his opinion about Penelope. One thing I expected to happen, that didn't, was for Penelope and the tax man to become closer, or for him to somehow "save" Pen from Terry.

Another "modern" NL book I really enjoyed was Walk Into My Parlor, pub. in 1975. Very memorable and picturesque characters.


message 12: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (Peggy908) | 573 comments Sylvia, I also thought that her relationship with the "tax man" and how he had a kind of crush on her was going to mean much more than it did. Thank goodness for Penelope's maid (can't remember her name) for being so insistent on going to check on her. I give the doctor credit for driving her, can't imagine that happening now!


message 13: by Sylvia (last edited May 19, 2012 09:33PM) (new)

Sylvia (SylviaB) | 982 comments The maid's name was Mrs. Stornaway. She really appreciated Penelope's kindness and care when she got the influenza. It was her great opinion of Penelope that changed the doctor's mind about Penelope. He had always assumed that, being rich, she was selfish and spoiled. I think her smallness contributed to the way others treated her.

I remember our family doctor coming to our apt. in 1959, and he was a huge man and had to climb many narrow steps.

Was anyone else surprised at the extent Pen. went to, to hide the attempted murder and her killing in self-defense? I wasn't too surprised that she was considering helping Terry's cherry red floozie and his baby.


message 14: by Debbie (new)

Debbie | 47 comments Sylvia, you don't know my husband (a family doctor.) He would have gone out there every day. These days with the telephone, he would have gone as soon as he didn't get a daily call letting him know she was feeling better. He once changed a broken door lock for a patient, an older woman living alone, because when he went to make a house call, he saw that the door couldn't be locked and he didn't want her in the house when anyone could just walk in. He does that kind of thing all the time.


message 15: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (SylviaB) | 982 comments Debbie, please give your wonderful doctor husband a big HUG from me! I absolutely idolize great doctors.


message 16: by Peggy (new)

Peggy (Peggy908) | 573 comments Debbie, your husband sounds like a very dedicated person!

Sylvia, now that you mention it, Pen was acting in self defense but maybe her thoughts were to minimize the resulting scandal/publicity. I liked the ending with Pen's confidence and freedom from the fear of living alone. I also liked her feeling of responsibility toward helping with Terry's baby, but I think June would have soon found another man and that situation would have turned difficult.


message 17: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (SylviaB) | 982 comments Since it is all conjecture anyway, I would like to think that Pen finds a mate who is perfectly suited to her, and even though she isn't afraid anymore, she would have an understanding and appreciative companion, and possibly could adopt a child or continue to support Terry's child if needed. I don't see the "lady in [cherry] red" ever becoming domesticated.


message 18: by Barbara (last edited May 23, 2012 10:07PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1422 comments Interesting isn't it, the use of the colour red for non-respectable women. June (even her name is lush and hot) is always in red - even her maternity smock is, and with a black skirt too! In, I think, The Old Priory, the girl made by her mother to be a prostitute is described as wearing 'the ritual scarlet".

I believe NL was - or wanted us to be- a bit conflicted about all this. June is in many ways admirably honest and brave, look at how she refuses to adopt a shamed demeanour when the pregnancy begins to show. Nor is there any sign she will do anything but have and love the child, and in a time and place very inimical to unmarried mothers too.

Perhaps she would let Penelope adopt and then herself move on, seeing the baby cared for. Perhaps. Like Peggy , I don't see her settling down as Pen's pensioner . More likely she'd move on, with baby , and with head held high and then meet a nice sexy large man who'd bought a pub which was failing til she joins up with him and turns him and the trade around and they live HEA.
( who, me? , romantic....?)


message 19: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia (SylviaB) | 982 comments Ha, Barbara! We knew all the time that you're a romantic! I'm just now reading White Hell of Pity, and when the trampish mother decides to "take in a boarder", she buys a black satin dress and trims it with red braid. She wanted to make her message very plain!


message 20: by Barbara (last edited May 25, 2012 06:47PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1422 comments Oh dear my cynical mask is torn aside . I'm going to the Fashion and Beauty thread to do justice to your post above Pegs.


message 21: by Barbara (last edited Jan 04, 2013 04:56PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 1422 comments I've just read this again -and come to the conclusion this time that I didn't really like anyone in it very much apart from June and Miss Stornaway!

I don't like NL's 'moderns' anywhere near as much as her 'historicals . Often , I find some jarring note in them that I can't be sure is just the character and not an actual opinion, usually some piece of condescension or snobbery about a servant type .

Nothing like that ever appears in the historicals, servant may be nice people or not, clever or dim , but always complete human beings with fully developed attributes , In LLA for eg, Agnes' desire/love for Terry is treated as it it were a pathetic joke and her disappointment as ludicrous adn ephemeral, because she is a lesser sort of being than Pen. There an uncomfortable passage too about the morals and veracity of anyone who would own a pub or be married to anyone who owned one.

Fortunately for me , I also just re-read To See A Fine Lady, possibly my absolute favourite NL . And there the heroine, Araminta Glover , an illiterate servant is also one of her finest and most realised creations to my mind


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White Hell of Pity (other topics)
Lady Living Alone (other topics)