The Doves of Venus, Paperback

The Doves of Venus Paperback

4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Pretty, brave and eighteen, Ellie has come to London in search of adventure.

She soon finds it in Quintin Bellot, the handsome but tired dilettante who finds her a job in fashionable Chelsea.

But Quintin, the seducer of one dove, is also the husband of another. And Petta, his once beautiful wife, is fighting back age as fiercely as Ellie is plunging into it.




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Review by

This novel was written and set in the 1950s. It was rescued in the 80s by the Virago Press.The story focuses on Ellie who is determined to leave the stifling and uncongenial atmosphere of her home in a small seaside provincial town, much to the disapproval of her widowed mother and older sister. Ellie is determined to make a life for herself in London and never return.She rents a room in the Victoria area and is willingly seduced by the so-charming Quintin. Ellie is a naïve young woman who believes Quintin really loves her. He is a man-about-town figure who lives on unearned income and spends his life picking up young girls. He is separated from the beautiful Petta who also indulges in numerous affairs.If one didn’t know Olivia Manning had a reputation as a good novelist (famous for her Balkan Trilogy) you would think this a well-worn theme and not bother to keep turning the pages. What made it an interesting read for me was in the detail of London life at the time for both working-class young women and also the upper middle-class types she comes across: you can sense the author’s distaste for the latter. There is for Ellie the exhilaration of being caught up in the life of the metropolis but also the downside of not being able to take advantage of what it has to offer when the last shilling has to go in the gas meter or when it’s a choice of toast or bun in a tea-shop,not both. This is before the era of equal pay and Ellie is badly paid for her work in the ‘antiquing’ department of a second-hand furniture store.For me it worked on two counts – the sociological aspect and the London scene of the time. For anybody not particularly interested in those aspects of a novel, I suspect it might be a no-no. I subsequently found out that when Olivia Manning died in 1980 it was the only novel of hers not mentioned in the long obituary notice in The Times.

Review by

i really enjoyed this until the end which came so suddenly. she's starving and cold, walking the streets of london and then she's married and unmoved by her former beau for whom she cried a river?

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