The Village, Paperback
4 out of 5 (3 ratings)




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Priory Dean is a small village, near to London. It is essentially rural but near enough to the city to start to be attractive for people who want to commute into the city. These people are not the kind that those who live in the Priory Hill area of the village would welcome. Priory Hill is where the better people live, those of the upper-middle class. They aren't necessarily wealthy, indeed some of them are in dire financial straits, but they consider themselves to be the moral leaders of the village. Unlike the working-class people who live down at Staion Road and how are mainly beyond the notice of the Priory Hill set.The Village opens on the night that victory is declared in Europe in 1945. Wendy (from Priory Hill) and Edith (Station Road resident) meet up for their final night of duty at the Red Cross post. The war has brought these two very different women together across the class divide but the end of war leads to the resumption of their proper places - socially important woman and her 'char'.The story continues and shows up the English class hypocrisies and the real nastiness of people concerned with retaining their place in society. The introduction of an American who doesn't understand the subtleties of this life emphasises these very English characteristics. Many of the characters are deeply unplesant, Wendy in particular, and Marghanita Laski does have some fun at their expense. This isn't a complex portrayal of the English rural middle classes in the immediate post-war years, but it feels very authentic!

Review by

What I like about Marghanita Laski’s books (of the ones I’ve read so far) is that they’re all different in subject matter, but they’re all very similar, too. Little Boy Lost and The Victorian Chaise Lounge, as well as The Village, all deal with the theme of chaos and how it impacts social structure. Her novels are also about how her characters deal with the effects of that chaos. The Village opens on the day that WWII ends in Europe. The people of Priory Hill join their fellow Englishman in rejoicing over the end of the war. But what a lot of them don’t realize is that a way of life, consisting of rigid class hierarchy, is over; or if they do, they try to cling to it. The Trevors are one such family; although they’ve “come down, they still cling to the idea that they’re gentry. So it’s a complete shock to them when their daughter, Margaret, strikes up a friendship with Roy Wilson, a young printer whose mother was a housekeeper.The Village is not your usual tale of the life of a county village; it’s the story of one community’s attempt to deal with the shift in perspective that occurred after the war. It illustrates the fact that social status is merely an illusion. In some ways, Margaret and Roy represent the “new way” of doing things. In all, this novel is an excellent representation of how WWII affected people--not so much the soldiers but civilians.

Review by

This book was a bit out of my comfort zone as I normally read contemporary books. The Village was written in 1952 and the story starts on the day that the war in Europe ended. Mrs Wendy Trevor, an upper class woman with no money, and Mrs Edith Wilson, a working class woman whose family are making a decent wage, go for the last time to the Red Cross post. The war has thrown them together and class differences were no longer important, but with the end of the war Wendy expects things to go back to normal, but Edith and other people in a similar social position know that they are no longer to be quite so looked down upon. When Wendy's daughter and Edith's son take a shine to each other it causes some consternation in the village.I thought this was an excellent and interesting look at the class system and village politics. I really liked the growing relationship between Margaret Trevor and Roy Wilson and was rooting for them not to be deterred by the villagers. The working classes certainly came off the best in this novel! It made me smile and the author has a wry sense of humour in her writing.

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