25 Dec 2009 – from Ali

Dorothy Whipple can do no wrong in my book – I think I’ve read most of her Persephone reissues and every one has been a delight.  This was no exception.  We follow a few exciting years in the life of a shopgirl, Jane – but she’s no ordinary shopgirl.  Starting work in the big town in 1912, she has ideas which are perhaps a little above her station, but all about improving the shop and selling more clothes and haberdashery.  But will the stately world of Chadwicks and the company of other shopgirls be enough for her? First, the local poet-librarian shows her a hitherto unexplored world of books, and then a member of the gentry takes an interest in her business plans.  Some melodramatic moments, but we all need some of those now and then.  I particularly liked the very detailed descriptions of exactly how a shop of that period worked, and the friendship forged across societal boundaries between Jane and the delightful Mrs Briggs.  An excellent read which was gulped down during the course of one happy Sunday.