June 20th, 2008

school stories

Dorothy Richardson, Chaletian

Oh dear, now I’ve given up on Dorothy as well. The book is so slow; how one longs for something to happen. What a contrast with recently discovered Barbara Comyns, who describes the most astonishing events in a laconic, matter of fact way and in very short books. My current failure to find any book which pleases me will no doubt drive me back to Bleak House or Mansfield Park.

What is interesting about Pilgrimage is the description of a German school in, I suppose, the late nineteenth century. The Saal, the good food, the mending sessions, the hairwashing (with egg!), the times set aside for fancy work. The visiting masters, including an irascible music teacher. Then there’s the German girls: so placid and well behaved, so musical, so well practised already in housewifely arts. Ring any bells?