Magazine article The Spectator

A Comedy of Manners

Magazine article The Spectator

A Comedy of Manners

Article excerpt

Lettice & Victoria by Susanna Johnston

Arcadia, £12.99, pp. 166,

ISBN 9781909807228

Spectator Bookshop, £11.69

This utterly charming, totally bonkers short novel is something from another age. There are elements of A Handful of Dust (the young girl trapped reading Dickens), of Rebecca (the undervalued companion of a cantankerous employer), of fable and fairy tale and even of Restoration comedy.

Victoria, young, pretty, big-bosomed, is the companion of a blind man of letters who lives in considerable style in a house in Italy. Her mother is drunk, her employer eats only eggs and dislikes women. Escape she must, and she does so via a vapid young man who falls swiftly in love with her, marries her and conveniently dies. Enter Lettice, a mother-in-law direct from Hades. …

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