September 01 2020 TBRI’m up to July 2019 in my TBR – another few books and I’ll only be a only a year behind, even if that year is made up of almost two shelf-worths of books – and here’s another Dean Street Press book from their Furrowed Middlebrow imprint, this time passed to me by lovely Ali when she realised she had somehow got two copies (follow this link to see all my DSP reads so far). Back on form with Elizabeth Eliot for the last of her novels I own, with an exciting mystery twist, too!

Elizabeth Eliot – “Cecil”

(30 June 2019 – from Ali)

Back to the first person here as we watch with his sister in law Anne as her husband’s half-brother is systematically ruined by his narcissistic and semi-invalid mother. That he doesn’t have a chance is clear from the start, and Anne, Charlie and wry American cousin Nealie can only look on in horror, try to help, and speculate as to what can be done.

Set in 1917, looking back at the 1880s onwards, there’s an unexpected plot twist when the inevitable happens, and the attractive narrator, calm and firm although somewhat unnerved by her stepmother-in-law, with her own two children who she sees with a loving but not suffocating eye, balances out something of a monster in Edythe and the acerbic charms of Nealie:

‘Very noble,’ Nealie said, ‘but then the young always have such high ideals. I suppose that’s natural. Having lived for a shorter time than we have, they have had less to put up with.’ (p. 81)

I loved Nealie’s arrangement of her admirer’s affections and her provision of a sardonic chorus, dear, solid Charlie who is always there in a crisis and provides a supportive background for Anne, and Cecil’s manservant Thompson in this intriguing and fun book with a psychological edge and a cracking plot, about which I can’t write any more without giving that plot away!