My first Whipple has proved to be an utterly charming read. I'm 100 pages into the story and am absolutely captivated by Jane's independent mind, quiet determination and hunger for life. Jane is almost nineteen and she is fortunate to secure a job as an assistant in a draper's shop in a market town in Lancashire. There she makes friends with fellow assistant Maggie and her boyfriend Wilfrid, who works at the Free Library, and who develops a crush on Jane. Wilfrid reintroduces Jane to the world of books and she finds her spirit and courage expanding through reading. Jane also befriends Mrs Briggs, the wife of one of the partners of a cotton mill in the town, and we can see how the people around her are starting to shape her and open her up to a world that had previously appeared restricted.
I love the way Dorothy Whipple writes, the dialogue she uses and the dialects (which are not at all intrusive) that are sparingly interspersed. She is skilled at painting a picture of a cotton mill town after the turn of the century and in portraying the different classes. We are not only privy to Jane's thoughts but also to the thoughts of others in a higher social circle.