Magazine article The Spectator

Tea with Mr Rochester

Magazine article The Spectator

Tea with Mr Rochester

Article excerpt

A group of noble dames TEA WITH MR ROCHESTER by Frances Towers Persephone, L70, pp. 192, ISBN 1903155347

'Lucy could have wished that Florence were not quite so ingenuous. One should not seize on a delicate implication and put a pin through it,' writes Frances Towers in 'The Chosen and the Rejected', one of ten short stories published in 1949, the year after the author's death, as Tea with Mr Rochester, here reprinted by Persephone. Frances Towers's writing is full of delicate implications; happily for the reader, each is neatly pinned. Such is the deftness of her touch, her elegant legerdemain, that she conceals the building blocks of her artistry, simply nudging the reader towards recognition of that implication that repeatedly in her stories provides the denouement.

The world of Tea with Mr Rochester is the world of that fictional dinosaur the gentlewoman, in particular the unmarried gentlewoman - daughter, sister, aunt. It is not, like so much genteel fiction of its period, concerned with the servant problem, with lack of money and the arid prospects of girls of slender means. Towers's heroines are women of sensibility and feeling, they are susceptible to art, music and a pretty interior - indeed, the decorations with which characters surround themselves are weighted with significance. Above all, they are imaginative, romantic women. They share a sexless, predominantly passive outlook which distances the modern reader. …

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