Women Are Like That

Date of publication
Published reviews
Cook, Marjorie Grant. ‘Women Are Like That’. The Times Literary Supplement, no. 1423, 9 May 1929, p. 380; Hartley, L. P. ‘New Fiction: Women Are Like That’. Saturday Review, May 1929, pp. 620–22; ‘New Novels’. The Times, no. 45184, 23 Apr. 1929, p. 21; ‘Notes for the Novel-Reader: Fiction of the Month’. The Illustrated London News, 18 May 1929, p. 864; W.H.H. ‘Women Are Like That’. The English Review, July 1929, p. 122; ‘Women Are Like That’. The Bookman, July 1929, p. 208.
Interlude in the Life of a Lady Refined, suburban Louise Lloyd-Jump, at the dangerous age of 43, persuades her stolid family to take a holiday abroad for the first time. They go to Rome, and exhaust themselves seeing the sights. When her son Ronald is suspected of having typhoid fever, they are forced to extend their stay but move to a villa in Genazzano (also the home of Aunt Clo in The Heel of Achilles). There, Louise is affected by a yearning for romance that her husband is unwilling to provide; driven to tears while out for a walk, she is surprised and then embraced by a handsome Italian man. Louise returns home, successfully forgets her adventure and pursues her ladylike suburban life. At the end of her life, she repeats his last word to her: "Domani". The Sprat Juliet Duquesnois has worked all her life as a music teacher and been poor, but has now inherited money and an elegant home. Able for the first time to attend concerts as often as she wishes, she meets at one of them Arthur Lawrence, who tells her of an up and coming violinist, Raoul Radow (who will reappear in Challenge to Clarissa). Lawrence takes her to hear Radow play - he is indeed very talented - and then out to tea, extravagantly, at Rumpelmeyer's, telling Juliet that he is searching for a financial backer to start Radow on his career. Juliet knows she is being played, and despite confiding in her friend Kate Beamish about the risks, consents to go out to lunch with Lawrence and a couple of other interested investors. The expense of the lunch to Mr Lawrence, at a costly French restaurant, eventually persuades her to invest in Radow's career. Squirrel in a Cage Sacha Michelson, married to Charlie and living in the country, comes to London to meet her lover, Ian Berringer, in the studio flat that has housed their affair. She suspects he wishes to end the relationship, and is correct; he considers her "too exacting" and that he cannot "live on the heights always". The narrative is interspersed with Sacha's own internal narrative, rewriting her story in third person, casting herself as the heroine of a romance. The Obstacle Irma Stevenson is pretty and smart, but at thirty-five has almost given up hoping for the "grande passion" that she believes must overtake her before she can consider marriage. She is beginning to feel too mature for the current fashions and losing her attractiveness to men. Travelling down to Oxford to visit friends, she shares her third-class compartment with a very attractive man. They begin to talk and find they have many things in common. The train is delayed by a landslip and he manages to find them some hot tea and bread and butter. She finds he knows her Oxford hosts a little, and imagines he is a poet or an academic, like them. Arriving at Oxford, she discovers that he is in fact the family dentist - and has taken her to be the new governess. Oil Painting - circa 1890 The unnamed narrator and her slightly elder sister, Frederica, are middle-aged and unmarried, living together at Scorpe, the family home, with an old companion, Miss Batten. The narrator remembers their constrained childhood, dominated by the grandmother who brought them up and stifled any independence of thought or action. When their grandmother has a stroke during the first war, the opportunity is there for one of them to leave and undertake war-work, but the narrator, unable to bear the idea of leaving herself, persuades Frederica that she should not leave either. Frederica, mildly, suggests that her sister is being as dominating as their grandmother. In middle age, Frederica becomes vaguely unwell, and a young doctor suggests that she should go away by herself for a complete change and rest. The narrator, angry at the suggestion, makes Frederica tell the doctor that she does not want to go away on her own, and their lives continue in the same way. Frederica and her sister are versions of Frederica and Cecily in Thank Heaven Fasting, in which Frederica thwarts Cecily's attempt at marriage to a doctor called to treat some neurasthenic disease. Strong overtones of lesbianism here - the sisters sleep in the same bed - and the narrator herself describes their relationship as morbid, their interdependence as unnatural. The Lady from the Provinces Desmond Adaire, a serial lover but not a husband, meets pretty, elegant and charming Pamela Carew, staying with a mutual friend while her dull husband has medical treatment in London. They begin a flirtation and he soon falls in love with her. As her time in London comes to an end, he begins to wonder if he could suggest that they begin a clandestine affair - their flirtation has progressed to embraces but it is not clear whether the relationship is sexual - and hints at this to Pamela. Pamela interprets this as a request for her to leave her husband and go away with Desmond, and is delighted that he has asked even though she must refuse. Desmond, more charmed than ever by her naive assumption, allows her to return to Cornwall and domestic life with this romantic memory intact. Compensation Mrs Awdry, a suburban housewife, gains solace from the domestic despotism of her husband and the trials of managing him and the desires of her children, by the occaisional Quiet Day at a local Anglican convent, and the friendship of the Sister Superior there. Her daughter May is 21 and, although pretty and pleasant, has not yet attracted any admirers. A stressful scene at the breakfast-table on Good Friday, in which Mrs Awdry and her children attempt to negotiate with cantakerous Mr Awdry about the use of the family car, shows the strain imposed on Mrs Awdry by the need to manager her husband. However, when May becomes engaged, Mrs Awdry encourages her to marry a man she likes, but does not love, for the sake of social status and avoiding the need to work, exemplified by some spinster aunts, while acknowledging that all men are likely to be as difficult as Mr Awdry. The Mistake Julius Palliser is married to Cecil and they have three children, having lost one to pneumonia; Cecil is asthmatic and the children tend to ill-health. Julius is a writer and, before they married, Cecil too did some writing. Since their marriage Julius believes his writing has suffered from having to undertake "hack-work" to support the family. Julius complains of all this to Thelma Fontaine, another writer but one who is always willing to stop working if someone is in need of her. Julius, who has had previous affairs, begins to spend more and more time with Thelma, until Cecil asks for a divorce; she is in love with the family doctor who is happy to give her and the children a home out of London where they will be healthier. Thelma, gradually, persuades Julius to agree to this; when Cecil and the children eventually go, he is euphoric. Visiting Thelma, he finds her unwell with a 'tiresome winter throat' but still sweeps her into his arms, visualising her as the mother of his future children. History Again Repeats Itself Theodosia, a modern young woman, discovers that her friend Alec is conducting a flirtation with Marjorie Kane. Despite her modern intellectualism and repudation of sexual jealousy, she is more upset than she cares to show, but consoles herself with a kindly parson also staying with her parents over Christmas. Extremes of 1920s and 1900s attitudes to sex and romance are contrasted by Theodosia and her mother. The Breaking-Point Mrs Hamilton and Mrs Montague have a tempestuous friendship, unsurprisingly because they first become acquainted when Sara Montague is undertaking a flirtation with Mr Hamilton in the far East.. She feels sorry for Ruby Hamilton, however, and Mrs Hamilton makes an extended, paying-guest vist to Mrs Montague the next time she is in England. The story is punctuated by their rows and fallings-out, until the final breach is achieved by Sara, who has taken Mrs Hamilton's daughter with her to France, including in her bill for Marjorie's expenses the cost of providing her with soap - eightpence. We're All Alike at Heart Mrs Rydall, a suburban housewife, discovers her nephew in a flirtation with her nursery governess. The nephew gets rapped knuckles, the governess is threatened with the sack, although her value as a servant means that she does not get it. Mrs Rydall then goes to the wedding of an upper-class friend, agreeing with fellow guests that all the world loves a lover. These Things Pass Lady Olivia, old and with a certain reputation, has young Mary Merrion as a house guest. Mary, a Catholic, must marry within her faith but her mother also wishes her to marry money; she is in love with Geoffrey Poole, suitable on the first count, but impoverished. Lady Olivia assures Mary's mother that she will try to do better for her; but she makes sure Geoffrey is invited to the hunt ball. After the ball, Mary confides in Lady Olivia that she and Geoffrey are in love, but she feels it wrong to become engaged without her parents' consent. Lady Olivia begins to intervene; on the way back from a visit to Geoffrey's parents, she confides in an old friend about her own first love, which occured after her marriage and ended with his marriage, breaking her heart. The Whole Duty of Woman Elinor Ambrey has been in a nursing home following a nervous breakdown, apparently caused by the sudden, early death of her sister Anna, but now she is putting on weight again and getting better. The doctor interviews her and stresses that the whole duty of woman is the bearing of children, and hints that she should continue to perform her sexual 'duty' to her husband - which, as the mother of five children, she has already clearly been doing. When her husband arrives to fetch her, Mrs Ambrey relapses into hysteria. . The Gesture Eve, an impoverished writer living with her mother, has come to a literary conference in Brussels, but must leave early because of lack of funds. She is being courted by two other writers, the rich and successful Miles Marbury, and the poor but talented Denis O'Reilly. Both try to persuade her, unsuccessfully, to stay on. She undertakes the long journey and has an awful ferry crossing, confined to the Ladies' Saloon. At Dover, Denis O'Reilly appears, manages her luggage through customs, and sees her into her train with a hot cup of tea; he is going back to Brussels for the rest of the conference, but wanted to make sure she was all right after the journey. This generous gesture wins Eve's love. The Indiscretion Sydney and Arthur, a married couple, have been sailing when their yacht capsizes. Convinced that they will die, Sydney confesses that she has had an affair earlier in their marriage. Coming back to consciousness after their rescue, there is a moment of awe before both remember what she has said. Terms of Reference Isobel France has married an older, widowed man and become stepmother to his four children. In middle age, she learns that the youngest, Baba, has been linked with a married man. Isobel remembers the early years of her marriage. She married Arthur France on the rebound from a quarrel with her first love, Anthony Chisholm, but soon realised her mistake; Arthur does not love her and the older children, encouraged by the servants, dislike her intensely despite her best efforts. She meets Anthony again and they rediscover their love; he asks her to leave Arthur and come away with him, but she will not renounce her duty to Arthur as his wife. Discussing Baba's affair with her, she realises that it is quite normal for Baba to expect her married man to divorce his wife and marry her; she tells a little of her story to Baba, seeing the similarities between their positions. But If It Had Been a Fine Day - ? Susan, a rural vicar's daughter of 30, and Rupert, the son of a new neighbour in the village, have become friends. One summer's day of uncertain weather, they go by bicycle to visit the ancient church at St Nancie. Susan, a modern woman who has read Havelock Ellis, knows that there is nothing romantic or sexual in their relationship although she is attractive and pleasant; she expects Rupert to return to Ceylon after his leave without any hint of a proposal. They reach the church, and while they are looking round it begins to sleet. They take shelter in the pub, and in the hours it takes for the publican to return home with his car and drive them home, they exhaust all their conversation. Paying for a fire, they begin to talk in a more intimate way, until Rupert is inspired to propose. He is accepted, although Susan wonders if it would ever have happened without the bad weather.
crime extra-marital affairs lesbianism marriage mother-daughter relationships short stories sisters women's friendships