Second-hand copy of early Slightly Foxed Edition. Limited Edition no. 1745 of 2000. In pristine condition.
Successful early on as a short-story writer and a contributor to Greene’s prestigious but short-lived magazine Night and Day, P. Y. Betts shone briefly but brightly in the literary firmament during the 1930s and then was heard of no more. Rediscovered fifty years later living contentedly alone on a remote Welsh smallholding, she was encouraged by a publisher to put pen to paper again and produced this irresistibly funny yet poignant memoir.
She was born in 1909 into an unconventional middle-class family living in Wandsworth when it was still a countrified suburb. Nearby was the great prison, where from time to time a crowd gathered at the gates when a murderer was to be hanged. Down the road was a military hospital, from which, during the Great War, the ‘sad, lamenting never-coming-back notes of the Last Post’ would often be distantly heard. These were powerful early impressions for young Phyllis, but People Who Say Goodbye is far from sad. In fact her clear-eyed account of life in the Betts family circle is sharply comic – the clashes between the carefree Betts household and her mother’s snobbish and conventional family living across the Common; the holidays at Brattle Place near Dover, with its terrifying and toothless landlady Mrs Milton; the happy, undemanding days in Mrs Stroud’s school where dictation was given from leaders in the Daily Mail.
P. Y. Betts is a truly original voice and People Who Say Goodbye is a delight – a powerful evocation of a time and place and an unsentimental account of being a child that has the unmistakable ring of truth.
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