Friday, 1 May 1992

The Guardian Angel

Fiction ~ short story
Published in Woman, April 1928
Collected in Desirable Residences and Other Stories (1991)
Approx. 3,800 words
(First read 01/05/1992) 

Another mildly diverting bit of Society froth from the late 20s.  Mrs Attwood is another in EFB's long line of widow-women living in 'poverty', which is to say in a delightful little house in Mayfair with a full retinue of servants.  In exchange for free lunches, dinners, and holidays on the Riviera, she makes it her business to act as guardian angel ~ and matchmaker ~ to her friends, such as that 'dear kind thing' Peggy, Lady Rye.  But this episode in her 'busy' life involves another pal Julia Soningsby who, unhappily married to a man she adores, has agreed to divorce him provided that he names himself as the guilty party.  Mrs A, having rented her house out for the Spring, goes for a holiday to Brighton where an entirely predictable (and credibility-stretching) misunderstanding ensues.  Needless to say, it all ends as prettily as you'd expect, and Adultery pops its head back below the parapet.

Mrs Attwood has gone to have dinner with her chum Julia.  Notice how Benson has a dig at flappers ... without being in the least bit insulting about it:
Julia came downstairs some ten minutes after G[uardian] A[ngel] had arrived at her house, looking like a handsome boy who had chosen to cut his hair shorter than usual, and to wear a sapphire-coloured sack which very nearly came to his knees.  [...] Julia always made Mrs Attwood feel Victorian: she felt even more so as the meal, which consisted chiefly of caviare and cocktails, proceeded.

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