They Knew Mr. Knight

My Dorothy Whipple addiction continues apace, finishing two of her books within the last few hours. This is a lovely well constructed tale of a family that rises to then falls from prosperity. Each character is fleshed out in splendid detail and Whipple is a marvel at creating images you can see in your mind. We first meet Thomas Blake waking up beside his wife Celia, vaguely worried that the engineering works he’s employed at are going to be sold. Celia luxuriates in bed, having a rare half hour to herself before she has to return to being a wife and mother of Freda, Ruth, and Douglas. The children’s character is varied; Freda is frivolous and cares about outfits and wealth; Ruth is curious and daring and lighthearted and wants to become a writer; Douglas is being groomed to take over his father’s company but secretly wants to be a scientist, not an engineer. There’s a gossipy neighbor next door, Mrs. Greene, who thrills to witness their eventual destruction when Thomas cooks the books to save his plant, ending up in jail for a year. Celia has a bit of “God” nonsense throughout, crises of faith and whatnot, although when it returns at the end it seems more like Spirit than religion. Solid fiction plotted along a well-worn path of rise and fall with happy ending.