Chatterton Squared

There is more than a strand of nostalgia in my prediliction for volumes in the World Book Club series.  As a child, in a small town without a bookshop, these, and the Time Life Ancient World Series, would arrive in the post, the robust packaging promised a deft exit to another place.  Not all the novels in this series were the best work of the novelist, and Chatterton Square being a good example. I first met EH Young via Virago and her  Miss Mole, and then The Missess Malletts,  both mild domestic depictions of middle class life, with fine character portraits, invariably featuring a stalwart spinster, often with a pointy nose, an abrupt manner, a repertoire of tics and a generous heart sometimes undermined by ill-judged actions to protect herself or her loved ones from further loss. Chatterton Square, is the mild sort of thing that intrigues despite of it being far too well larded with political declarations of the dreadful complacency of English pollies and people that would bring everything badly undone in the lead up to World War 2. I wondered, given this must have been, at least, E H Young's tenth novel, if perhaps the editors had just given up on her, or her, them.

One reason why I ploughed on to then end was my curiosity as to whether Young might flaunt convention and let her heroine, deserted by an irascible out of the scene husband, have an affair, or at least a fling with a suitor, who if not exacting dashing,  at least had a dash. Perhaps, given E H Young's reputed personal circumstances of being the third party in a menage a trois, the conventional ending here shows that the editor, might after all, have had some exercise.

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