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Tenterhooks by Ada Leverson





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Book Excerpt

was always strict with his father, and when he was good Bruce found fault with him. As soon as he grew really tiresome his father became abjectly apologetic.

Archie was called and came in, dragging his feet, and pouting, in tears that he was making a strenuous effort to encourage.

'You must be firm with him,' continued Bruce. 'Hang it! Good heavens! Am I master in my own house or am I not?'

There was no reply to this rhetorical question.

He turned to Archie and said in a gentle, conciliating voice:

'Archie, old chap, tell your mother what it is you want to see. Don't cry, dear.'

'Want to see the damned chameleon,' said Archie, with his hands in his eyes. 'Want father to take me to the Zoo.'

'You can't go to the Zoo this time of the evening. What do you mean?'

'I want to see the damned chameleon.'

'You hear!' exclaimed Bruce to Edith.

'Who taught you this language?'

'Miss Townsend taught it me.'

'There! It's dreadful, Edith; he's becoming a reckless liar. Fancy her dreaming

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This second novel in "The Little Otleys" trilogy focuses on Bruce and Edith, and their disintegrating marriage. Hyacinth Reeve does not appear, nor any other significant characters from the first book, and you can read this one without having read the earlier novel. Edith Ottley finds herself drawn to Aylmer Ross, a man very much more her intellectual equal than the fatuous and self-centered Bruce. Ross is deeply in love with her, yet she keeps him at arm's length out of a disinterested loyalty to her ridiculous husband. Even when she knows that Bruce is having affairs with other women, she refuses to leave him — for the sake of convention, her children, her mother-in-law and the hapless Bruce himself — much to Aylmer's unhappiness. This book is much more serious than "Love's Shadow," more real and even better written, though something of a downer. The tone is less like Jane Austen and more like a cross of Evelyn Waugh and Barbara Pym.