Dorothy Richardson - PilgrimageWell, it’s time for another review of another volume of Dorothy Richardson’s “Pilgrimage” series. I’ve been reading these for almost a year now, and although we’ve all ended up reading different volumes at the same time, it’s been a real pleasure to read these alongside my fellow book bloggers and Virago fans as we’ve gone along (it would be lovely if everyone could comment with where they’re up to and a link to their most recent review). I can’t believe I’ve only got 105 pages to go now!

Dorothy Richardson – “Dimple Hill”

(28 March 2015)

With one book to go in the series, why do I think this is like my experience of the film “Magnolia”, where I was sure everything was going to tie up together at the end … and then it didn’t?

We open on holiday with Florence and Grace in a cathedral town as part of our heroine Miriam’s six-month rest cure – but who are Florence and Grace? I really cannot recall if we’ve met them before. Maybe that little book I bought in Buxton will explain all. There’s some griping about holidaying with friends and not all wanting to do the same thing, and a changed experience in a church, where Miriam describes that she, “felt nothing of her old desire to smash their complacency”, perhaps a sign that she’s maturing (this is handy, as she’s going to be spending quite a while in places of worship quite soon).

Having caught up with Amabel and Michael’s budding romance via a packet of letters that’s been around pillar and post trying to catch up with her (this almost normal novelistic device stood out for me as the rest of the work is so decidedly and carefully against narrative conventions), Miriam goes off to stay with the Roscorlas, a Quaker family, farming in Sussex, who rent out a room. She falls for their simple ways, although she does seem to spend her time at Meeting looking at men and at people’s hats, and while there are some lovely descriptions of the house and the nature surrounding it, she seems to get into one of her interminable misunderstandings over men, upsetting someone’s girl and somehow simultaneously humble-bragging as not presenting as a standard simpering female and fancying (?) herself romantically linked to the man of the house.

It’s all very confusing and seems to end in upset and a hurrying moving on, as ever. Meanwhile, Amabel the fearless fighter for women’s rights has basically got herself in a position where she needs one man (Michael) to rescue her from oppression by another (her brother), which doesn’t seem that ideal.

Bitchy about other young women and their accents, mean about a mother who’s protective of her son, always getting into emotional tangles and being obsessed with men and switching between the first and third person – yes, I know the last point is a feature of the writer, not the character, but they are so closely identified and unfortunately, while I certainly do not have to like and admire every character in a book to enjoy the book, it’s pretty heavy-going when the central character is fundamentally unlikeable and unattractive, as far as I’m concerned. Maybe that’s the point, though. Who knows?

Well, that one’s done and just the last, very short, volume and then the small book about Richardson that I picked up and hope to be the Key To All Mysteries to go.

I’m currently reading “Yeah Yeah Yeah”, which is Bob Stanley’s excellent history of pop music from the advent of the vinyl pop single to its demise. Very, very good so far. And I might have bought Greg Rutherford’s autobiography For No Reason. Just because I clicked.