I have become addicted to Persephone Books and am very much looking forward to a visit to the shop when I visit London next week. I love their beautiful dove grey covers; they match my DIY painted dining room table and chairs perfectly and they just look so beautiful. To get me all excited about my bookshop trip I picked up Patience by John Coates. It is a book I was given for Christmas 2012 and one I added it to my TBR Pile 2014 to ensure I definitely picked it up this year.
Patience is the story of Patience Gathorne-Galley, a 28 year old woman married to Edward, living in a beautiful house in London with three young girls. Set after the Second World War, Patience is an innocent, somewhat naive wife, who despite having children, finds no pleasure in intimacy with her husband and sees it as more of a wifely duty than an enjoyable act. Patience can be seen as a product of her time in this sense, but at a time when women were arguably beginning to explore their freedom, she is also hindered by her religion and the strong sense of Catholic guilt; a guilt that is fuelled by her sanctimonious brother, Lionel. Patience’s sister, Helen is much more liberal, living in sin with her new husband and it is through Helen that Patience meets Philip and is awakened to what her life could be like.
I loved Patience. In the modern day when novels are often action, action, action, it is always refreshing to read something that goes at a leisurely pace, yet still grabs your attention. It is a novel that explores the difficulties of marriage and divorce, especially for women. and how these can be made so much more difficult when religion and social expectations are thrown into the mix. I enjoyed how quickly I become engaged with the characters’ lives, even though their problems could be seen as slightly trivial in comparison to some of the complicated plots and romances you find in modern literature. I liked the innocence and naivety of the novel, even though the subjects it dealt with weren’t necessarily innocent, Patience certainly was and I found this made her more endearing.
One of the main reasons I love Persephone Books, and no I’m not back to the beautiful physical aspect again, is how nostalgic and innocent they seem. Yes, people have affairs and marriages end, but it is not the sordid and outrageous controversy that it can become in some fiction. It seems a much simpler time, without the evils of social networking and pointless celebrities to rule the lives of our characters.
Overall a lovely read and one that I thoroughly enjoyed, especially as I have been off work ill for the past few days and was in need of comfort. If this post makes very little sense I will blame the medication I’m taking!