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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Together and Apart by Margaret Kennedy

The 1920s is another period where what people would say was obviously of paramount importance. Betsy has decided to divorce her husband Alec - her reasons seem somewhat lopsided. She feels let down by her marriage and feels that happiness has somewhat eluded her. Her husband has never been passionately involved with her and despite knowing about his liaisons with various women, she now takes it upon herself to bring up the latest mistress as one of the reasons for her leaving him. On the sidelines is her cousin who has always been in love with her and who has offered marriage on innumerable occasions. He is also very rich, an Earl into the bargain and is an ideal alternative to her.

She discounts however the interference from family. On informing her parents (holidaying in Switzerland) about the impending divorce her mother hotfoots back home to try to prevent this. Her mother is not interested in Betsy's personal feelings on this subject but only on preventing her divorce. Her mother in law has more decided views on the subject - despite her support for her son, she does not want this divorce to go through. She does not want to be the subject of gossip by her circle of friends and so she descends on the family to see what she can do.

The break up of the marriage and its effect on three very susceptible children, maybe two of them badly affected by the divorce - the two elder children not knowing who is right or wrong, taking wrong decisions, forcing parents themselves to choose and in a custody battle where at sixteen they have to choose which parent they want to live with, completely cutting the other parent off. Barbaric, very difficult to handle situations for children. 

The need for provision of proof of the other woman in this case pushes the husband into being forced into a decision of a relationship with the young woman who looked after his children. He is not in love with her, she is madly in love with him and because of the lack of an alternative he almost is forced to begin an affair with her! His disinterest is obvious and how he is maneuvered into this relationship is farcical. 

The divorce ultimately does take place, each partner marries someone else but it is almost as if it was by accident than by design. 

I did not enjoy the divorce part but the setting of 1920s is a favourite period of mine. I liked the exchange of letters from friends who sought to do whatever they felt they could do to put the pieces of the couple's lives together. The interfering mother in law was an old cat, wily and only supportive of her son and seemed typical! Betsy's mother seemed a more floundering, helpless type. I did like the characterization!

The book was recommended on Cosy Books 


  1. Mystica, there are elements in this book that have a distinct Indian setting, particularly the part about the interfering mother-in-law.

  2. I've only read her 'Lucy Carmichael' which was a really good read. The characterization of this one sounds like something I would enjoy too.

  3. I dont know if I have read much about the 1920's. It sounds interesting.