2015: 5. It Ends With Revelations

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"After she had unpacked in the old hotel bedroom Jill leaned out of one of its two tall windows and came face to face with a lion."

It Ends With Revelations, Dodie Smith

I bought this during my twee/comfort British reading phase, and somehow forgot to read this one.  Yet another baffling Smith, one that I again, can't really discuss without spoiling, so if you think you are going to get this one (which basically involves buying it from England), don't read any further. 

It's about Jill and Miles Quentin, and their happy marriage.  He is a famous actor, she used to be a stage manager, and they are in an English spa town putting on a new play.  Her job is to keep him happy as he performs, but in her free time she makes friend with local MP, Geoffrey (a widower) and his delightful daughters.  Over the story it slowly becomes clear that Jill and Geoffrey have fallen in love - and halfway through we come to learn that Jill and Miles only have a marriage of conveinace.  He's gay, she was lonely and miserable and they married for respectability.  They are close friends, but that's it.  Jill now must decide if her loyalty for Miles outweighs her chance at true love with Geoffrey…

What a weird book this is.  The characters are all delightful - real, and complex, and charming, but the plot is so odd.  To read half of the book thinking its a real marriage, only to find out Jill is a beard is so jarring.  And then her decision - to stay with Miles or leave - and the weird ending.  I don't know.  I liked this book, but it also seemed totally bizarre. To be totally fair, it was written in 1967, and I have to give Smith all the credit in the world for her treatment of Miles's homosexuality.  She just treats it as fact - you'd think you were reading a modern novel. Some characters are bigoted, others not, but you can tell the author isn't.  Which is nice, but doesn't quite get you over the hump of the strangness of the story.  I liked it - I like how Smith writes, but, in the end, I think it doesn't quite work.

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017