I do know how to behave - believe me, because I know. I have always known...'
Behind the gates of Temple Alice the aristocratic Anglo-Irish St Charles family sinks into a state of decaying grace. To Aroon St Charles, large and unlovely daughter of the house, the fierce forces of sex, money, jealousy and love seem locked out by the ritual patterns of good behaviour. But crumbling codes of conduct cannot hope to save the members of the St Charles family from their own unruly and inadmissible desires. This elegant and allusive novel established Molly Keane as the natural successor to Jean Rhys.
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Killing with kindness
Highly readable, black humour mixed with acute observation of social behaviour. The setting in an upper class Anglo Irish family in the 1930s should not put the reader off; the themes are universal. Treat a child badly enough, and don't be surprised if you produce a monster. My only caveat is that I am not convinced the book should have been written in the first person, as I found the narrator's mixture of acute perception and supreme obtuseness unconvincing. However,other people disagree with me.
The book is very cleverly constructed, with a deathbed scene (a murder in effect) at the start which, for me, had the effect of antagonising me from the narrator. I was therefore surprised to find myself rooting for this emotionally deprived child, despite the monstrousness of her (impeccably good) behaviour towards her remaining family.