Sunday, 11 April 2010

The rising tide (Keane)

I haven't hugely enjoyed the Molly Keane novels that I have read before, but The rising tide was recommended to me by Rachel from BookSnob and I have to say that I enjoyed it more than the other ones that I have read, mainly for the insight it gave into life for women living in country houses before the First World War. I'm still not a huge Keane fan - I don't especially enjoy her writing style or particularly what her novels are about.

The Rising Tide tells the story of the family at Garonlea at the start of the twentieth century. The lives of the four daughters is ruled by their mother, Lady Charlotte:

"Pain they endured and accepted.
Endless Chaperonage.
Supervision of their correspondence.
The fact that Mother Knew Best.
That Father says so.
That there is no more to be said on the subject, they accepted.
They accepted their leisure without boredom.
They accepted having occupations found for their leisure"

It was certainly a restricted life. As the book proceeds however, life relaxes, particularly after one of the sons marries Cynthia, who introduces another personality, as strong as that of Lady Charlotte into the household. And of course as time passes and the war happens, society itself changes and becomes less restrictive.

It's been published three times by Virago, and I borrowed the most recent pink edition from the library. 3*.


  1. Oh I'm sad you didn't love this! I thought you would. I think Molly Keane appeals to a certain taste and not everyone enjoys her. She can be rather acidic! I'm glad you tried it though!

  2. Verity, I'm sure by the time your done you'll come to love Keane...

  3. I've got The Rising Tide waiting for me as well. Have read Devoted Ladies and that put me off reading any more Keane. But I'll give it another go...

  4. Rachel - I just don't feel the Molly Keane love I'm afraid.

    Hayley - here's hoping.

    HJelliot - I'm glad other people have struggled with Keane, but as you say, must keep giving her a go.