The Tortoise and the Hare

The Tortoise and the Hare Absolutely brilliant I was expecting a pleasant, quiet read, but Miss Jenkins surpassed all my expectations She s such a keen observer of the human nature and her prose flows gorgeously The Tortoise and the Hare, the story of a disintegrating marriage, is followed in minute details, and although you come to despise most characters one by one, Jenkins keeps you reading because you need to know the outcome and how long will Evelyn keep on being an asshole and how long will Imogen take it and Blanche, will you just stop being SO annoyingly perfect Great discovery My foray into British feminine lit of the first half of the 20th century continues.4.5 With prose so impeccable and a situation so initially tranquil that it is not until much too late that it registers that Jenkins has actually enticed the reader into a kind of vice, and all the screws have been cheerfully locked into place and the lever is already being cranked Anybody who has ever underestimated a romantic rival and lost all because of it will find trajectories here outlined with a unnerving precision And yet there is a certain quiet generosity present too even the unlikable characters are never completely villainized, and no one ever emerges as a protagonist instead all and that includes us as readers too are ultimately forced to confront the full weight of all decisions, both made and not madeThe re dipping of dishes was a small matter, but the emotional texture of married life is made up of small matters This one had become invested with a fatal quality Should I start this review by remarking on the condition of women and how far we have come since a mere 60 years ago Or should I start this review by remarking on the terrible consequences of love Or should I start by saying that you know the book is good when you want to enter the story and yell at the characters involved The idea of barging in on Evelyn Gresham s and telling him how much of a worthless, spineless man he is quite entertaining God knows he deserves it But let me put try to put some order into this review and start from the beginning The Tortoise and the Haretells the story of a seemingly happy couple, Evelyn and Imogen Gresham Evelyn is an important lawyer, part of that English middle upper class the tabloids look up to as the example of perfect Britain Imogen is 15 years younger than him She has everything to be the kind of character one feels compelled to despise she s judgemental and vain However, because she s so aware of her failings and her insecurities, and because the readers are privy to her thoughts, we can t help but sympathize with her It is obvious from the beginning that something is wrong in the Gresham s household Starting by the relationship between Imogen and her son, Gavin, who is as annoying as only someone called Gavin could be Imogen stands in awe of the boy in the same way she stands in awe of the husband Yes, Imogen idolizes her husband Nothing can disturb dear, brilliant, handsome Evelyn Everything has to be exactly the way Evelyn wants or else something unspeakable might happen We don t exactly know what it would be but we know it would be terrible Poor Imogen tries, she tries a lot but somehow she always falls short In the beginning the reader thinks this is only her perception of things It is Imogen who thinks she s falling short It is all in her head Surely her husband can t be so thick and selfish to think so Turns out he can And this is where Blanche Silcox comes Oh, Blanche Silcox She is perfect for Evelyn and she is keenly aware of this fact She drives, she fishes, she probably hunts as well She is a practical woman we re told countless times She knows all about the countryside, the stock market, silverware, cars, fishing, horses, guns She is the kind of woman you d want at your side in a crisis because she knows where everything is and I bet still makes a wonderful cup of tea Blanche Silcox attracts Evelyn because she is everything that Imogen is not but that Evelyn needs her to be Blanche Silcox is not really beautiful and she s even older than Evelyn But to Imogen s suprise that doesn t matter in the least And so Evelyn begins an affair right under his wife s eyes You need to be a really nasty piece of work to bring your mistress to your dinner table and include her in your domestic affairs It is unbelievable that Evelyn gets away with this for such a long time See, the problem is that Evelyn isn t cruel He s never mean He s always pleasant In fact, whenever he is present interacting with other characters, he comes off as rather nice and even kind But when you get down to it, and you think about what he has done, you see that he really is a terrible person Far than Blanche who despite her manipulations is an insecure, inexperienced woman who could have been set straight by a honest man The book asks intereesting questions about feminism It can be argued that it tries to set the two women against each other There is some degree of truth here Blanche, despite everything, comes off as rather unsympathetic, a woman who knows precisely what she is doing, and what she wants And what she wants is Evelyn But one can also argue that Imogen and Blanche devote their lives to try to please this man But Imogen has the benefit of realising, at a certain point, that she has lived all her life in a society that prepared her only for this role that of pleasing men Of not being in their way Of facilitating their lives Making things easier for them so that the strain of their Very Serious Work is lessened Perhaps it is because of this that I am a little annoyed that Blanche, such an independent and strong woman, is so prone to lay down her life for Evelyn whereas Imogen, far weaker and less independent, is prone to question the way she was brought up There s also a bit where Blanche goes on a rant against Free Health Service and how those terrible poor people are getting sick at the expense of the wealthy and quite frankly that did not endear her to me The genius of this book is that nothing really happens for the greater part of it Tensions build up, slowly, very slowly, and the ending is unsurprising yet shocking if I can sustain the paradox And yet, the second ending for there is one is sweet and so very fitting.I believe it is also fitting to see the title as Hilary Mantel does in the Afterword For me then Imogen is the Tortoise because she struggles through a mire of misery but leaves it behind Blanche is the Hare because though she has raced off with the trophy husband, where love is betrayed once, so it may be again Although I can pity Blanche for what is to come, it brings me some satisfaction to think that the modern reader, especially the modern female reader, is prone to think that it is Imogen, and not Blanche, who got the better end of the deal. I heard about The Tortoise and the Hare 1954 by Elizabeth Jenkins via an episode of the always splendid Backlisted Podcast Carmen Callil, the legendary publisher and writer, who is best known for founding the Virago Press in 1972, was a guest on the podcast as The Tortoise and the Hare is one of her favourite novels The Tortoise and the Hare was first published by Gollancz in 1954 and then triumphantly reissued by Virago Modern Classics in 1983.If you enjoy perceptive and clever books that contain astute psychological insights into human behaviour then this is the book for you If you also enjoy books set in the repressive milieu of 1950s midde England, then pick this up as soon as you can The Tortoise and the Hare charts the gradual breakdown of a relationship in which the husband is assailed from a determined and ruthless suitor Although the wife, Imogen, appears to be the victim, the denouement is ambiguous and leaves many intriguing questions in the reader s mind Imogen who lacks agency and has been socialised to place the needs of others before her own is suddenly on the cusp of freedom It s a book that you will probably want to discuss once you ve finished It is very enjoyable, intriguing, subtle and well written The introduction by Hilary Mantel, and the afterword by Carmen Callil, add even richness and context to this enjoyable book.5 5The Tortoise and the Hare by Elizabeth Jenkins UGH.Another abandoned book.Read 70 pages from the start, found myself rolling my eyes so I skipped to the last 30 pages to see if it really is as predictable as I m guessing and nope this is not for me The writing is stunning but the story and the characters are so cringe worthy and stereotypical I wanted to gouge my eyes. The Tortoise and the Hare was Elizabeth Jenkin s sixth novel, one which was described to me recently as a forgotten masterpiece I have had a copy for a while so I absolutely had to read it right away My only other experience of Elizabeth Jenkins was in the novel Harriet published by Persephone books Of her writing Hilary Mantel in her introduction to this edition says she is like Jane Austen formal, nuanced, acid She surveys a room as if she were perched on the mantelpiece an unruffled owl of Minerva, a recording angel My full review here This book lived up to the title.the writing gripped me from the beginning, then slowly drip fed me and until the very end I had never heard of this book I had never heard of the author though she s also known as a founding member of the Jane Austen Society I picked the book up from the library, for the sole reason that it had a pretty cover It paid off I m not sure how I can describe it, as I would certainly make it sound dreary and mundane, though it s nothing but There is not much of a plot, nor did I especially feel much affinity for any of the characters, but I cannot stop thinking about the story several days later and I think it s one that will stay with me for a while The blurb gives just enough detail of what happens, but cannot convey how simply wonderful the story evolves Such a shame that it doesn t have of an audience here on GR, but I would wholeheartedly recommend it. Evelyn is a distinguished barrister with a beautiful but unaccomplished wife, Imogen He also has a plain, sturdy neighbour in Blanche She is you typical tweedy country woman Member of the WI, and the Girl Guides, she hunts and fishes To Imogen increasing astonishment, this woman starts to command and of her husbands time, she is clearly after him By the end of the novels, as others have stated, we are left wondering who is the Tortoise and who is the Hare. First published in 1954, this was the sixth, of twelve, novels written by Elizabeth Jenkins She is somewhat forgotten now, with her books hard to get hold of and, I must admit, that I had not heard of her before This novel was recommended by my friend, and fellow reviewer, Nigeyb, and I am pleased that he did so It is, without doubt, a gem of a book and, undoubtedly, one to which I will return.Evelyn Gresham is a fifty two year old barrister Competent, successful and self assured, he lives with younger wife, Imogen and their son, Gavin, in the country Imogen is beautiful, sensitive and kind She tends to defer to Evelyn and is somewhat downtrodden by both her husband and son Her needs are always secondary, she does all she can to create an easy, and harmonious, life for Evelyn and, of course, he doesn t appreciate this one bit Gradually, Evelyn falls under the spell of country neighbour, Blanche Silcox While Imogen is all dreamy introspection, Blanche likes to get out and do things She strides around, shooting birds, catching fish, riding, hiking, running every local organisation and, as she is older, and definitely less attractive than Imogen, the danger is not, at first, scented Before long, though, Blanche is everywhere She will pick Evelyn up in her car Imogen does not drive , capably discuss his cases with him Imogen suffers while waiting for news , organises his and Gavin s life and insinuates herself into and of their lives, and Imogen s, marriage.As well as the main characters, there are many other people who inhabit these pages many of whom are in the unenviable position of having to pick sides There are the local bohemian family, whose mother floats around, neglecting her children including Gavin s friend, Tim, who witnesses much of what happens in the Gresham household There is also Blanches s disagreeable stepsister, Marcia, Imogen s friend, Paul Nugent, also unhappily married and than a little in love with her , and her close female friend, Cecil as well as Hunter, who is a friend to both Evelyn and Imogen.This scenario does happen and people are left thinking, for example, Charles preferred Camilla to Diana, or John abandoned Cynthia, for Yoko, with varying degrees of shock, and surprise Of course, attraction is not just physical and Blanche is both astute and determined You feel she is a woman who has been overlooked, who suddenly blossoms under this new, female power Where Jenkins is so clever is in showing that nowhere is the shock greater than with the woman whose husband looks elsewhere, and how it affects her self esteem Imogen s wounded self pride shocks, as Jenkins bares her soul, for us to see However, the human heart is a resilient one and, as the title suggests, there may be a twist in who is, ultimately, the tortoise and who is the hare The Magnetic Evelyn Gresham Is A Barrister Of Considerable Distinction He Has Everything Life Could Offer A Gracious Riverside House In Berkshire, A Beautiful Young Wife, Imogen, Who Is Devoted To Him, And Their Year Old Son, A Replica Of His FatherTheir Nearest Neighbor Is Blanche Silcox, A Plain, Tweed Wearing Woman Of Who Rides, Shoots, Fishes, And Drives A Rolls Royce In Every Way The Opposite Of The Domestic, Loving Imogen Their World Is Conventional Country Life At Its Most Idyllic How Can Its Gentle Surfaces Be Disturbed

From Elizabeth Jenkins obituary in The New York Times As a novelist, Ms Jenkins was best known for The Tortoise and the Hare 1954 , the story of a disintegrating marriage between a barrister and his desperate wife that Hilary Mantel, writing in The Sunday Times of London in 1993, called as smooth and seductive as a bowl of cream Its author, Ms Mantel wrote, seems to know a good deal abou

❧ [KINDLE] ❀ The Tortoise and the Hare  By Elizabeth Jenkins ➠ –
  • Paperback
  • 272 pages
  • The Tortoise and the Hare
  • Elizabeth Jenkins
  • English
  • 09 September 2019
  • 9780860682721

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