***[plot spoiler alert]***
I love Persephone books and I particularly like war-years fiction (this actually takes place after WWII, but Britain was still dealing with rations, the change in women's roles, and the place of the wealthy and servants in the new post-war world). Dorothy Whipple is a keen observer of what makes women, and men, of the era tick and is a solid writer. I blew through this page-turner in three sittings. So why only 3 stars? Half the book was a slow-motion train wreck, where I wanted to look away but couldn't. I knew the main character's husband was going to leave her for a young, self-centered, & embittered French woman, and I found myself pursing my lips and muttering to myself with exasperation that the wife is so gullible and oblivious. She's almost *too* good. In addition, I found the French woman to be so horrible and without redeeming qualities as to be hard to believe. It was difficult to believe her old beau and her parents could ever like her, let alone love her. No redeeming qualities at all. Finally, the "happy" ending, while a relief after the near-destruction of everything good, felt forced and unrealistic. That said, I still liked much of writing and the evocation of post-war England and I will no doubt read anything else by Whipple that I come across. Perhaps her other plots will be more subtle.