Wednesday, April 7, 2010

High Wages

(The cover of the original hardcover edition from 1930)

Although High Wages is the latest Dorothy Whipple novel to be published by Persephone books, it's actually one of her earlier novels. It was originally published in 1930. High Wages has all the characteristic Whipple charm that her more famous books have, however, I don't think it's one of her best and I'd only recommend this to those who are already fans of her work.

 (endpaper of the Persephone edition of High Wages)

High Wages is about Jane, an ambitious young girl who works in a draper's shop just before the first world war. After a few years, she sets up her own dress shop with help from a wealthy friend. Although unlucky in love, Jane proves to have a keen business sense that makes her little boutique an instant success.

The preface of the novel was written by Jane Brockett and she mentions that High Wages has tremendous historical value because it covers the consumer culture and retail therapy of that particular era. It is indeed interesting to see how women viewed fashion in a small northern town in England just before the Great War. This novel is also unique compared to other ones from this period because it's about a woman who embarks on her own career and does it so remarkably well without the help of any man. Though not a great novel, it's still very engaging. Whipple portrays village life wonderfully and the cast of characters as in all her novels are very well-drawn and quite interesting. High Wages, though not the best Whipple, is still a charming, old-fashioned and delightful novel.

23 comments:

  1. I like the concept of women "making it" out there in the world!

    Here's mine:

    http://chezraine.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/waiting-on-wednesday-4/

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  2. I set this aside to read later this month. It will be my second Whipple so I'll give it a go and see how I like it. Charming, old- fashioned, and delightful sounds great. Thanks for the review!

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  3. Yes I have heard this is weaker, and I am perplexed as to why Greenbanks, a far weightier novel, and perhaps my favourite Whipple, wasn't seen as more of a priority to publish by Persephone. Oh well, I shan't be bitter! I am interested to read this, especially as I love the shop girl theme.

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  4. I think the cover art from the 30s to the 50s is spectacular on British novels! They always look lovely.

    I definitely want to read some Whipple! Next time I see her, I will get it.

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  5. I have not read any of Dorothy Whipple's books but want to try. What are persephone books though

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  6. I keep meaning to read one of Dorothy Whipple books. I did have one out from the library but I didn't have time to read it. I like the sound of this one.

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  7. Sounds like a great pick! I like strong women characters. :)

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  8. I picked up an orange and cream Penguin edition of this recently and considering reading it as part of Persephone Reading Week (I'm already a Whipple fan but thanks for the warning).

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  9. I haven't read enough Whipple (yet) to make comparisons, but I did love this book. Jane was such a lovely heroine.

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  10. I love that dust cover and the book sounds wonderful too.

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  11. I think I'm going to love Whipple when I finally get to her - I'll be sure to start elsewhere, though.

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  12. This looks darling--love that beautiful cover!

    -Connie @ Constance-Reader.com

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  13. I saw a Dorothy Whipple for sale on the 50 percent off table at Fully Booked yesterday-maybe I should have bought it-have you found a source for Persephone books in the GMA as I would like to join the May Persephone books event?-great post

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  14. I read this a few weeks ago, but am saving my review for Pesephone Week in May. I loved. I have become a dyed in the wool Whipple fan.

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  15. I found your review very interesting. High Wages was my first Whipple, and I loved it! Am very pleased to think I have even better novels of hers ahead of me.

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  16. Your blog has made me want to read Whipple! The cover is very gorgeous :)

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  17. Thanks for posting on this one. I have read it but agree that it is not the height of her achievement.... Lovely post - thanks for sharing

    Hannah

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  18. I loved HW though I agree it's not the best Whipple I've read. I just find her books so readable. I read HW almost in one gulp. I couldn't go to bed until I knew what Jane was going to do at the end. The picture of provincial life in the 20s is wonderful too. Thanks for the review.

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  19. I enjoyed reading this but it is definitely not as good as They Were Sisters, Someone at a Distance or They Knew Mr Knight. I am waiting for Persephone to publish Greenbanks.

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  20. This is my favourite Whipple although it's probably not her best. I just loved the 'Woman of Substance' theme. Couldn't put it down.

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  21. I've yet to read a Dorothy Whipple, but I think I am going to pick up Someone at a Distance soon! I like the sound of this, even if it's not her best. With some authors I just enjoy most of what they write, so I'll be curious to see if I find that the case with her!

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  22. We seem to more or less agree on High Wages - good, but not her best. Then again, I have so many of her novels not yet read - if They Were Sisters is your favourite, perhaps I should pick that one up next...

    I also don't think I knew you lived in the Philippines - I was there for a month once, and love the country. Magandang umaga po!

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