by Vera Brittain
Virago Modern Classics
‘Bright, romantic and vivacious, Daphne Lethbridge is back at Oxford after a period of voluntary work. The First World War has ravaged Europe, but it has done nothing to daunt her spirit and she plunges headlong into the whirl of college dinners, debates and romances. Her enjoyment, though, is soured by her cynical contemporary Virginia Dennison, who spars with Daphne on every occasion. Beneath their surface civility seethes a deep enmity.
Daphne seems to triumph over Virginia when she makes a brilliant marriage to a rising political star. But after they settle in London, she begins to realize the bitter truth of her marriage. It takes a chance encounter with her old enemy for her disillusionment to give way to a mature understanding of a woman’s destiny and a woman’s friendship.’
This was an engaging story of friendship between two woman just after WWI, supposedly somewhat based on Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby’s friendship. There are two forwards in this edition, one by Mark Bostridge and one by Vera Brittain herself.
It pulled me in right away and I connected to the characters right away. It seemed to me that the character of Daphne, (Holtby), could have been written a little less of a buffoon type character in her youth and more of a fun loving, gregarious person without making her appear oafish. Some of the themes touched on were women going to university and finally being allowed to get a degree, feminism and friendship. The end was a little bit of a surprise for me as Virginia, (Brittain), spoke of sacrifice and likened it to that of the sacrifice Christ made for all people…
‘I’m not sure that I even profess to be a Christian, so I suppose there are some things I haven’t any right to talk about. But it has always seemed significant to me that when it was “found to be expedient that one man should die for the people,” there was no sort of distinction made between one kind of people and another. He hadn’t to die for the worthy people, or the people who tried to be noble, or the people who understood – but just for the people. Because if the best had been carefully chosen out, the ones who were left would have been more in need of a Savior than ever. It’s never for the people who deserve it that we’re called upon to sacrifice ourselves; they don’t need to have sacrifices made for them. No, it’s for the weak and the wicked and the undeserving that we have to give things up.’
I think she summed up sacrifice well. Decent book, read it if you get a chance.
4 of #15Books of Summer