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Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 120 x 180mm
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • Ill.
  • 0192720473
  • 9780192720474

Review Text

Ultimately Ellen Southsee, whose legacy is a firm mind and a proper curtsey, meets and marries Serge de Poltoratzky, one of the richest men in Russia, to become the mother of Fanny (p. 463, J-165); for the most part, however, this latest episode in the Almedingen family saga centers, indeed abides, in Cobham Court in Kent and surges and ebbs according to the better or worse health of Ellen's long-invalided mother. Later, after Mrs. Southsee's death and Mr. Southsee's gambling debts loose what is left of the family from Cobham Court, his fortunes and misfortunes become focal. Missing here, then, are the color, the strangeness, the partaking of history that, along with a more vital, self-expressive protagonist, distinguished the Russian-based books. But there is much to beguile in Ellen's concern that Grandfather have his great oak chair in his grave, ready to rise to heaven with. him on Resurrection Day; in her thwarted attempt to walk from Yorkshire to Mr. Wordsworth's in Cumberland (he covered the distance, and isn't she younger?), this because "you know how much Mamma cares for his poetry." Mamma, exposing anachronisms by the bushel in Ellen's first romantic story (proudly, "my first lesson in literature"), so far from complaining that some questioned her languor, is a worthy lodestar and Papa, exuberant and restless when he's ahead, remorseful and withdrawn when he's behind, is convincingly "never beyond my compassion and regard." For friends of the family, Ellen and Serge's arrival at Avchourina alone will exalt the book, and Ellen's oneness with her small world has a definite if quieter attraction. (Kirkus Reviews)show more