Young Anne is Dorothy Whipple’s first novel but unfortunately is the last one I’ll be reviewing, because I’ve read and reviewed them all. Like many first novels, it is at least somewhat autobiographical.
We meet Anne at age five and see her again at eleven and eighteen before the bulk of the novel when she is an adult, but these ages are enough to get to know her. At five, she is prone to misunderstand her parents. Her father is severely critical of her while he spoils his oldest son. He is a martinet, and Anne becomes defiant of him as she grows older. Her mother doesn’t care about anything happening in the household.
As Anne gets older, she becomes quite naughty, but she is sent away to school because she laughs at her father while he is singing. This is shortly after she destroys her father’s copy of Boswell and knocks all the berries off a holly bush while getting carried away playing schoolteacher.
As a young woman, Anne loses her father, and the household is broken up. She is sent to live with her Aunt Orchard, who constantly complains about her ingratitude. Her only comfort is the maid, Emily, who has always been her staunch supporter and follows her to work in Aunt Orchard’s house. That and her friendships with Mildred and Mildred’s cousin George.
I found the character of Anne very appealing as she, in her straightforward way, has trouble navigating in society. Some of the scenes, especially with Mildred’s kind but social-climbing mother or the one where Aunt Orchard reveals her true self to the rector, are quite funny. This novel seemed true to life and was sometimes very touching. I liked it a lot.