Coming out with something

Susannah Clapp

  • Laughter and the Love of Friends: A Memoir 1945 to the Present Day by Ursula Wyndham
    Lennard, 208 pp, £14.95, March 1989, ISBN 1 85291 061 5
  • 1939: The Last Season of Peace by Angela Lambert
    Weidenfeld, 235 pp, £14.95, April 1989, ISBN 0 297 79539 2
  • Rosehill: Portraits from a Midland City by Carol Lake
    Bloomsbury, 179 pp, £12.95, May 1989, ISBN 0 7475 0301 X

‘Of course, one has to write, but what can one say?’ Ursula Wyndham’s mother set up this despairing wail whenever she read in the Times that a friend had given birth. To a girl. Her contempt for female children extended – with knobs on – to her daughter, and she was backed up by a husband who acknowledged his least loved offspring only by explosions of distaste. ‘Can nothing be done about that girl’s spots?’ he would grumble in front of the offending child. Or, when friends were assembled: ‘The tragedy about Ursula is that she is grotesquely tall.’

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