Thursday, January 12, 2012

Book Review 2011 #9 - Dodie Smith's It Ends With Revelations

It Ends with Revelations by Dodie Smith
Published by: Little Brown and Company
Publication Date: 1967
Format: Hardcover, 280 Pages
Rating: ★★★
Out of Print

Jill wanders the streets of a town she once knew in desperate times. How things have changed knowing that she could now have anything in any shop window along the high street. Of course, she doesn't want or need for anything since she married the distinguished actor Miles Quentin. Miles is in town to reopen the theatre by testing out a new play that has been adapted from television before moving to the West End. Jill's life is no longer the chaotic life of a stage manager. Now she's there for Miles. She keeps him on schedule, writes his correspondences, buys little presents for the cast, she is wife and personal assistant in one. While out on errands for Miles she wanders into a shop she remembers frequenting in her past. She wants to buy a box of chocolates for the young lad in the play, Cyril. He's never acted on stage and her and Miles want to give him all the encouragement they can. This day proves to be a fateful day. She runs into Geoffrey Thornton, a member for Parliament whom she met once at a function. They get to talking and she learns that his two daughters, Robin and Kit are huge fans of Miles'. They agree to arrange a meeting. Miles, as well as Jill, are charmed by the girls and soon when Miles is busy with the play, she spends all her free time with the girls.

Provincial runs are short though, and after the week the play packs up for London, as do the Thorntons. They all agree to meet often once back in the city, where Jill and Miles are met by their horribly austere and modern new apartment which they loath. It does not look like the play is going to have as receptive an audience in London and the bets are on that it won't last above three weeks. Miles starts to desperately engage Jill into thinking about what they want to do after the play folds. Perhaps an autumn in the country, some time abroad, a new home. Because while she can't place her finger on when or how, things have changed between her and Miles. It all comes out one day when Thornton takes her to see a possible house for Miles' "autumn in the country." Jill is married to Miles because of convenience. Miles is gay. The girls have long suspected this to be the case and have been encouraging their father with the "Thornton Take-Over Scheme" wherein Jill will be there new mother, seeing as their first nymphomaniac, dipsomaniac mother wasn't the best. Things are made all the more easier by the fact that Jill fell in love with Georffrey at first sight, as he did with her. But Jill will not leave Miles after all he has done for her. She is caught between a rock and a hard place and then, just when the pressure couldn't be any worse a scandal is set in motion.

After my second and most recent foray into Dodie Smith's back catalog thanks to my library, I was hesitant to continue. The Girl from the Candle-lit Bath being perhaps one of the worst books I've read in awhile. I am very glad to whomever put this book on hold at the library so that I had to read it right away, because one can't just return a book to the library unread, it goes against Blue Stocking code! I found the characters sweet and endearing. It Ends with Revelations gave me hope that perhaps I read Smith's worst work and now all I had was wonderful books to look forward to, all piled on my desk! The thing that struck me as groundbreaking about this work is the open discussion of homosexuality. Dodie Smith, spending many years in the theatre industry, obviously didn't have the prejudices of many others in society and therefore homosexuality is represented as it is, just the way people are. Robin and Kit are amazingly refreshing in their attitudes. They where raised by tolerate loving people, their grandmother being a friend of Oscar Wilde. To think this book was written in 1967! Many people don't have this openness of mind to this day. There where times when sometimes the slang to refer to homosexuals was a bit dated, so it seems a little derogatory. But keep in mind that while sometimes the words are a product of their times, the feelings behind them are amazingly progressive.

When one thinks that this book came out the year the sexual offences act finally decriminalised homosexuality in England, you realize how amazingly progressive it is. Jill being Miles' beard, which, lets face it, still happens a lot in Hollywood, and the way the Thorntons open up there hearts and in return change everyones lives for the better makes this a very uplifting book. Of course Dodie tries to throw in a bit of a scandal at the end, which wasn't worthy of the characters or their relationships, but she's an author who dabbles in theatre, you have to forgive her need to sometimes throw in an obstacle or two. I'm also glad to see that according to Amazon, this book is going back into print early next year! A book this fun and progressive and modern should not be confined to dusty shelves where the librarian has to basically go into the catacombs to unearth it for a devoted reader like myself!

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