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Expiation by Elizabeth Von Arnim

Expiation by Elizabeth Von Arnim


From the author of The Enchanted April, published here by Persephone ninety years after its first appearance, Expiation is a satire of middle-class prudery and closed-minded cruelty.

We learn early in the novel that Milly Bott's husband dies in a tragic accident revealing he has only left her the sum of one thousand pounds with the remainder of his estate to be given to a House of Rescue for Fallen Women. This dark and funny story follows Milly after learning her husband knew all about her affair and how she is to cope with the overbearing Bott family who are the backbone of important south London suburb, 'Titford'.

What was mostly ignored in the years after Expiation’s first publication was how laugh-out-loud hilarious it is while also being extraordinarily atmospheric and perceptive about the English, and finally, the effects of Milly's behaviour are forensically explored and scrutinised, yet, in the end and upliftingly, the power of simple human kindness wins through.

Persephone Endpaper:
A 1924-5 silk and rayon used on a day dress, fabric in a private collection.

384 pages

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