Jean, a 40 something journalist on a small local paper, lives with her mother providing care. A potential story of a virgin birth comes her way and as she investigates she gets close to the family involved. Gretchen became pregnant whist in an all female hospital with run by nuns in 1947. Only after she had recovered did she discover that she was pregnant - her mother believed her that no man was involved and she kept the baby - Margaret. She married Howard, a slightly older man, who accepts Margaret and they seem, to Jean, to have a perfect marriage.
As the investigation proceeds things turn out not to be so simple. Jeam falls for Howard, and vice versa,
A bit more than a small pleasure to read
by rogerco on Wed 15th Sep 2021.
It rattles along like one of those old south london suburban trains. Although the end is clearly telegraphed at the beginning and it is obvious that the conception will not turn out to have been immaculate, we are not sure exactly who is going to die, or exactly who the father was until the final chapters. Fortunately the ending is not a tacky romantic happy ending and the aftermath remains to be pondered on.
Along the way the suburban way of life in those days is well evoked; everyone with their eyes firmly on the ground and no-one looking around to question their circumstances - except perhaps Martha, and she is not painted in a sympathetic light. The shadows of wartime experiences are still deep, the consumption boom hasn't really started, convention rules.
Thank god for the sixties, what a shame about the eighties.