High Wages

I’m overdosing on Dorothy Whipple with pure delight. She is a master of manipulation, pulling your heartstrings along with the story. Jane is orphaned and works as a shopgirl for six years for a too-careful man (Chadwick) who begrudges all of her suggestions that end up making him money. She works alongside Maggie, who fancies the librarian, Wilfrid. A love triangle springs up when Wilfrid finds a kindred reader in Jane, thrusting books into her happy hands, his love unreturned. She prefers Noel Yarde, a dashing young man of the upper class who rescues her hat from being crushed by a car when it flies off her head. WWI intrudes, and all the men go off to war. Noel happily marries the vapid Sylvia before he realizes what he’s gotten into. Wilfrid kisses Jane and she feels guilty but doesn’t tell Maggie, who finds out as he’s about to head off to war, causing an ultimatum that it’s either Maggie that leaves the shop or Jane does. Jane’s friend Mrs. Briggs whisks Jane off for a weekend vacation and has the brilliant idea of staking her a loan so she can open her own shop, which Jane does and it is wildly successful, turning a £150 investment into £1000 within a few years. This ends up saving Mrs. Briggs when her husband is ruined by the tax evasion of his partner, Sylvia’s father Mr. Greenwood. Noel and Jane fall in love as armless Wilfrid watches in the wings, but the financial ruin means Noel must stay and earn for his young family. Jane has prepared to sell her shop so she could run away with Noel, and now is left with no plans. Wilfrid to the rescue, advising her relocation to London to start again.