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E. M. Delafield

Book Overview: 

Set in late Victorian England, “Consequences” follows the life of Alexandra Clare, a girl born into an upper class Catholic London family. Raised from birth for the privileged life of a wife and mother, Alexandra never quite fits in with her or her family’s expectations and fails at seemingly everything she tries – school, the marriage market, family life.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Queenie."

"No, they aren't," Alex contradicted mechanically.

"Well, Marie and Diana are, anyway." She looked slyly at Cedric. "Don't you think so, Cedric?"

"How can I tell whether they are any nicer, as you call it, than another kid whom I've never seen?" inquired Cedric reasonably.

"But didn't you like Marie?"

"She's all right."

Barbara giggled in the way most disliked by her family, the authorities of whom stigmatized the habit as "vulgar," and Cedric said severely:

"I shouldn't think decent girls would want to play with you at all, if you don't leave off that idiotic trick of cackling."

But Barbara, who was not at all easily crushed, continued to giggle silently at intervals.

"Why are you so silly?" Alex asked her crossly, as they were going to bed that night.

She and Barbara shared a room at Fiveapples Farm.

Barbara whined the inevitable contradiction, "I'm not silly,. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Anyone expecting something light and frothy like the Provincial Lady, will be in for a surprise. It is a heart-breaking but beautifully told story.

Alex Clare's story begins as a child in Victorian London, in a respectable family, she's an awkward child who feels things deeply. She's clearly the le

Consequences is quite different in tone from the Provincial Lady books, much more somber; yet it also deals with women's constricted lives and how they deal with them. It's not a cheerful read, as Alex, the heroine, goes through much suffering, but a thoughtful and perceptive one. She's hard to like

Until I picked up this book, I had completely forgotten the old-fashioned game of consequences; taking it in turns to write out a boy’s name, a girl’s name, where they met, what he said, what she said and the consequence of their meeting; folding over the paper each time so that nobody could see wha

This was such a good read. Delafield denounces the Victorian mentality. Yet she is not gentle towards the protagonist either – it’s not just others’ failings, it’s also hers. Alex Clare, the protagonist, is unable to find love and understanding, although she is desperate for a real human connection.

In one of the appendices to the Persephone edition of Consequences, the New York Times Book Review from 9 November 1919 is reprinted. Not only does it take the opportunity to take a potshot at English culture and practises of child-rearing, but it also describes the protagonist of the book, Alex Cla


Presently she sank into an armchair before the fire, and tried to visualize the effects of her own action. She was principally conscious of a certain amazement, that a step which seemed likely to have such far-reaching consequences should have been so largely the result of sudden impulse. She had no

Poignant, tragic, and so so readable/hard to put down - practically a one-session read for me even at 400+ pages!

Three stars seems like a lot for a book with an insipid, unintelligent woman as a main character. Alex Clare came of age in the Victorian era, which was admittedly very restricting for women, but she could never figure out how to make the right decisions for herself, or how to make herself happy. Sh

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