London Particular by Christianna Brand
Because it was Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee in the UK, we did a weeksworth of books with a first publication date of 1952. Because these entries were so popular, we've found a few more to feature over the next week.
[18 year old Rosie lives with her brother and sister-in-law in London]
Rosie appeared in the kitchen doorway. She looked excessively smart in a gay little hat and bright scarlet coat and a pair of very high heels held on by a sliver of sole and a couple of thin leather straps. ‘Well hello and goodbye chaps, I’m off’
‘What, in this fog?’ said Thomas. ‘Where to?’
‘Just – out’ said Rosie, shrugging.
‘Aren’t you staying in to see this wonderful Frenchman?’
‘No thanks very much,’ said Rosie. ‘I’m not.… Now may I go, please, as I have an appointment and I’m late for it already.’ Tilda heard the bang of the front door as she flounced off down the steps. Thomas opened it again to call out after her… her [voice] floated back to them, muffled already by the fog. There was a rattle as she struggled with the little gate. The faint clip-clop of her high heels whispered of her uncertain progress through the impenetrable grey.
observations: Christianna Brand is now remembered (if at all) only for Green for Danger which was made into a fabulous film in 1946 – scenes of great tension in the operating theatre, and an array of colourful characters. But she wrote another half-dozen murder stories, which are all highly enjoyable period pieces (as is Green for Danger), and quite refreshing in their way. Posh young Rosie in this one is pregnant and is cheerfully trying to obtain an abortion, while admitting that she has no idea who the father of the child is, as she slept with so many men while at finishing school in Switzerland. No-one seems to think any of this is that terrible (well, almost no-one). She says she was ‘a bit of a basket’ which seems to mean something like slut, though even the other characters don’t recognize the phrase. One gathers that Ms Brand was well-dressed herself and liked her clothes, and one of her books is called Death in High Heels – she is sure to feature again in the blog.
Links up with: Themes of 1952. A London Particular is a heavy fog, it was a big year for them, and so it’s a key element of Tiger in the Smoke as well as this book. And, doctors (and their instruments) feature in this book as they do in Doctor in the House.
The picture is from George Eastman House, and was a cover for McCall’s magazine.