Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Adultery in the Pre-Pill Era

Mr Quayne falls from marital grace:
At the end of the party Mr Quayne all in a daze already saw her back in a taxi to Notting Hill Gate and was asked in for some Horlicks.  No one knows what happened--still less of course, why  it did.  But from that evening on, Thomas's father lost his head completely.  ... I often think of those dawns in Notting Hill Gate, with Irene up leaking tears and looking for hairpins and Mr Quayne sitting up denouncing himself.  His wife was much too nice to have pretty ways but I daresay Irene had plenty--if that is how you like them.  I've no doubt she made the most fussy capitulations; she would make him feel she had never fallen before--and I should think it's likely she never had.  She would not be everyone's money.  You may be sure that she let Mr Quayne know that her little life was from now on entirely in his hands.  By the end of those ten days he cannot have known himself whether he was a big brute or St George.

--Elizabeth Bowen The Death of the Heart 18 (1938; Penguin 1966)

Mmm, Horlicks.

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