I must have read this book three times and have kept it for years, but as I get older, I realize that there are so many other books I want to read that I will probably never get back to this one. Time for someone else to enjoy it.
It centers on the relationship of Mrs. Pendelbury, an elderly lady who gradually goes insane, with her neighbors. Although the title uses the word "seduction," it has nothing to do with sex. Beautifully written and often funny, it is a sort of tragi-comedy.
From the back cover:
"This account of Mrs. Pendlebury's collapse is one of the most accurate and skilfully drawn descriptions of madness which I have seen in the whole of contemporary fiction...if my description of the book makes it sound depressing, I can only say that it isn't...and [it is] a joy to read."
Most of us have had a Rose Pendlebury in our lives as a relative or neighbor. She is easily offended, terse, prickly and critical. In this book, Margaret Forster introduces Rose and her husband, Stanley, an elderly couple living in a suburban English neighborhood. They are virtual recluses among young families until new next-door neighbors move in with their toddler, Amy. Surprisingly, Rose is drawn to young children and her relationship with Amy and Amy's mother, Alice, provides a sense of temporary belonging that has been missing. Reading this book, I was reminded of Olive Kitteridge and Hyacinth Bucket on Keeping Up Appearances. Their husbands and Stanley seem to be typical of men married to women with this particular personality disorder - they are submissive, resigned to keeping the peace and and always alert to the nuances of their wives' moods. Margaret Forster has written a sad, poignant story with grace and sympathy.