Princes In The Land

If Summerwater shows that families have no idea what each other is thinking in 2021 then Princes in the Land shows that they didn’t in 1938 either! Patricia and Hugh Lindsey and their three children, August, Giles and Nicola are the family, living in Oxford where Hugh is now a Professor of Poetry.

When the book opens, Patricia is going with her sister Angela and their unbearably snobbish mother, Blanche, to live with Lord Waveney, their paternal grandfather, on his estate. It’s a life of privilege and Pat grows into a tall, thoroughbred countrywomen. She’s the favourite of her grandfather but disliked by her mother for her unruly behaviour, muddy knees and aversion too balls and dresses. Her marriage to Hugh, the son of a builder, and according to Blanche ‘not really a gentleman’ takes her to Glasgow and a new way of life with three children. Stoically she cancels her subscription to Horse and Hound and substitutes it for Women and Home,

But when the children are older, there comes the move to Oxford and for Pat a return to country living, horses and dogs. Life is just as she wants it and her children grow up to love the pony club (Nicola), girls who wear pearls (August) and writing poetry (Giles). But as August wryly observes ‘It’s one’s parents’ attitude that forces one to tell lies . . .

This is Pat’s story of marriage and home and I can’t say it’s a particularly happy one. When we first meet Hugh he’s a bumbling student with radical ideas and it’s easy to see how fiery Pat is attracted to him. But then we learn that Hugh has always ‘sneered’ at her upbringing. ‘Sneered’ seems such a nasty word and out of keeping with the affable young man who fell in love with an unwilling debutante.

Her support for her husband and children is unshakeable, they are her whole world and in this makes the mistake of believing that she is their whole world. She believes her interests are theirs and is caught out when they grow up, become themselves and move away from their childhood. Her lost sense of self worth leads to bitterness and she seems as disappointed with her own children as her mother was with her.

Marriages are a central theme and within that sphere the topics of class differences, education and ambition are raised, but not explored as much as I would have liked and I did find this a slightly uneven read. For example, I would have liked to understand Hugh a bit more and I’m not sure how the sparky Pat got to be so like her mother! For a while I thought this might be the first Persephone book I wasn’t go to enjoy, but it was a feeling that didn’t last, and by the end, three good stories developed via the rebellious offspring. Phew!

7 thoughts on “Princes In The Land

  1. I think this is the only Persephone book I’ve read that I didn’t like. It does raise a lot of interesting issues, but the unpleasant, snobbish characters were too much for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The kids did save it for me, I couldn’t understand how Pat had become so snobbish. I know we all get more set in our ways but she turned into Blanche, ughh!


  2. Ha, I think families who don’t understand each other will provide food for literature as long as literature lasts! Isn’t that a great author pic? I immediately feel I want to go with her to a tea house and have a long chat over cake… šŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. you’re right, forever and ever parents have been and will be at odds with their teenagers. She has quite a defiant look about her, i hope she’s siding with her children and not the odious adults!

      Liked by 1 person

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