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A House Divided


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The reissue of a classic novel from one of Britain's best-loved storytellers.

About the Author

Catherine Cookson was born in Tyne Dock, the illegitimate daughter of a poverty-stricken woman, Kate, whom she believed to be her older sister. She began work in service but eventually moved south to Hastings, where she met and married Tom Cookson, a local grammar-school master. Although she was originally acclaimed as a regional writer - her novel The Round Tower won the Winifred Holtby Award for the best regional novel of 1968 - her readership quickly spread throughout the world, and her many best-selling novels established her as one of the most popular of contemporary women novelists. After receiving an OBE in 1985, Catherine Cookson was created a Dame of the British Empire in 1993. She was appointed an Honorary Fellow of St Hilda's College, Oxford, in 1997. For many years she lived near Newcastle upon Tyne. She died shortly before her ninety-second birthday, in June 1998.


Cookson may have died in 1998, but readers are not yet compelled to bid her a final good-bye. If this posthumous offering, with its repetitive plotting and murky prose, is not up to the writer's usual standards, loyal fans will likely forgive its lapses. Matthew Wallingham is a WWII hero recovering from a war injury that has left him blind. While hospitalized, he falls instantly in love with his nurse, Elizabeth Jane "Ducky" Ducksworth. Despite the potential emotional pitfalls, Elizabeth eventually agrees to become Matthew's wife. First, however, she has relationships of her own to settle, while Matthew must make a life for himself at home with his family. The upper-crust Wallinghams are a formidable bunch: Matthew's spirited grandmother; his flustered but loving mother; his father, disabled with multiple sclerosis; and Rodney, his perennially underappreciated and resentful younger brother. Jim and Peter, two loyal servants, are practically part of the family. The Wallinghams are fond of frequent tea-time conversations, during which they lengthily rehash the novel's action. Subjects of discussion include Matthew's new career as a physiotherapist and Rodney's hostility. Meanwhile, Elizabeth breaks off her engagement to coarse Mike McCabe, son of a family friend. Unable to bear this loss, McCabe becomes violent, attempting first to rape Elizabeth and then to kill her. As soon as he is neatly dispatched, Rodney emerges as the new threat to the couple's happiness. Finally, though, fate conspires to provide a happy ending, and all is as it should be in Cookson's domain. (Feb.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Humour, toughness, resolution and generosity are Cookson virtues...In the specialised world of women's popular fiction, Cookson has created her own territory -- Helen Dunmore * The Times *

A posthumous work: wealthy veteran Michael Wallengham, blinded in battle, falls for his unassuming caretaker. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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