Read The Squire by Enid Bagnold Online


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Title : The Squire
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780140161687
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 270 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Squire Reviews

  • Kirsty
    2019-05-06 19:01

    Enid Bagnold’s The Squire, first published in 1938, was one of Persephone’s two new additions for Autumn 2013. The novel’s preface has been written by Anne Sebba, and is both informative and well constructed. The Squire was written over a period of ‘some fifteen years’, and was informed by the births of Bagnold’s four children between 1921 and 1930. As Sebba states, ‘she [Bagnold] realised that she wanted to write not only about birth but also to explore in detail the intimate and growing relationship between the mother and her family. This, she believed, had never before been attempted in a novel’. She goes on to say, ‘most importantly, she wished to describe her own attitudes towards middle age with respect to sex and the family’.The squire of the book’s title is the middle aged mother of a family, whose position within it whilst her husband is away on his yearly jaunt to Bombay is as an omnipotent matriarch. She is ‘both the dispenser of punishment, and the provider of fun’, which draws parallels with Bagnold’s own life. The squire, Sebba states, has been ‘cast in the same mould’ as her creator.Bagnold sets the scene marvellously from the first. The opening line paints an incredibly vivid picture: ‘From the village green where the Manor House stood, well-kept, white-painted, the sea was hidden by the turn of the street. The house’s front, pierced with windows, blinked as the sun sank… Sunset and moonrise were going on together.’ The house itself is like a character, and Bagnold treats it with the utmost respect throughout. She sets the scene further when she writes the following: ‘The house, now masterless for a month, was nearly, too, without a mistress, for she, its temporary squire, was heavy with child, absent in mind’.In her confinement, the squire spends much time with the four children she already has – Jay, Lucy, Boniface and Henry. The house is staffed and the children have their own nurse, who ‘felt pride in her heavy squire, her argumentative, provoking squire’. Bagnold marvellously demonstrates the hierarchy of the house, even showing the disparities between the wealth of servants who are sent about the house on the merest whim. The characters are described realistically and rather originally. The squire, for example, ‘who had once been thirsty and gay, square-shouldered, fair and military, strutting about life for spoil, was thickened now, vigorous, leonine, occupied with her house, her nursery, her servants, her knot of human lives, antagonistic or loving’. Caroline, the squire’s neighbour and friend, is ‘lovely and restless, victim and adventurer’.Throughout, Bagnold’s writing is beautiful and full of power. It is even haunting sometimes – for example, within the description she gives of the unborn baby: ‘its arms all but clasped about its neck, its face aslant… secret eyes, a diver passed in albumen, ancient and epic… as old as a pharoah in its tomb’. The novel is a quiet one in terms of the events it describes, and the little action within it is very focused upon the confines of the house. The strength of it lies in Bagnold’s writing and characters, as well as the way in which she portrays relationships so well, particularly between the young siblings. She is an incredibly perceptive author, and this is a marvellous book with which to begin reading her oeuvre. Its complexities are great, and Bagnold is a master in things left unsaid. Some of the scenes which she captures, particularly those which involve the new baby, are incredibly vivid. It goes without saying too that the Persephone edition has been beautifully produced, endpapers and all.

  • Ali
    2019-05-05 15:12

    The Squire is a book which has more recently been re-issued by Persephone books, my edition however a nice original Virago green. Enid Bagnold – the author of four adult novels was also the author of the famous children’s story National Velvet. In this novel she celebrates childbirth and motherhood and the changing nature of a woman’s life – her prose is richly sensuous, languorous like the slow, contented movements of a woman heavy with child. “The children seemed to cast their Precursors like shadows about the house, sometimes tangibly, in the sound of a voice, sometimes by suggestion, because it was striking the hour for their return from a walk, sometimes mysteriously, because inside the shell of their mother’s head the children were painted like angels on the roof of a chapel.”A largely plotless novel – never a problem for me – it is a novel of astute observation nevertheless, with some brilliantly drawn child characters. To be honest I wasn’t certain how I would get on with this novel – I am very happily childless – on the face of it this was a novel that was likely to irritate me. However – I actually loved it – I loved it more as it went on, and it probably took me about forty pages to properly settle into it – but I actually surprised myself with how much I enjoyed The Squire.The Squire of the title is the lady of the house – The Manor House on the village green, in her husband’s temporary absence abroad she becomes the squire. The household; which include the ageing butler Pratt, cook, a couple of maids, the squire’s four children and their Nurse await the imminent arrival of a new baby. The cook is not a great fan of new babies – and takes the opportunity to leave – so the squire hurriedly looks for a replacement – a decision needing to be made quickly. Pratt the butler is a world weary old retainer; he views his temporary squire with irritation, which he is too self-serving to allow to show. Pratt dreads the new cook – he’s seen all this kind of thing before.Full review:

  • Katie
    2019-05-23 14:26

    This book has become one of my favorites. Bagnold writes beautifully of motherhood, labor, birth, aging, and mortality. "This short, this fearful loveliness, in which men and women, heroic and baffled, struggling to wisdom, age as they struggle; wrestle upwards and drop into the ground. This marriage, this association with matter, what a high-handed experiment, but what admirable victims! Man, with his eye on death, draws his foot from the womb. There is not time for anything, yet there is time for everything. No sooner appreciate love than skin withers, no sooner grow wise than we are unfit for wisdom. Learning to live and defeated by death. Discovery succeeds discovery, and nothing accumulates. We live haunted. We grasp and grasp; what we hold dissolves, our very hands dissolve."

  • Thomas
    2019-05-17 20:27

    I wanted to like it but found it rather tedious.

  • Susan Dillon
    2019-05-06 13:22

    Old fashioned in style -- I think the novel was set in the 1930s, but it could have been set much earlier because there are absolutely no references to current events, fashion or popular culture. Perhaps that is one of the points of the novel: that the experiences of pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood never change essentially. I was moved by "the squire's" appreciation of the individuality of each of her growing children and of her awareness of her own mortality as she gives birth for the fifth time and sees her children growing away from her a little bit every day.

  • Susann
    2019-05-24 17:27

    I liked some of the child birthing and rearing observations, especially her conversation with Lucy at the very end, but I had little interest in her other ideas. If you can get over the class thing (which is a huge task as you think about all the mothers raising their young without quite so many employees), Bagnold's portrayal of the servant problem is fascinating.

  • Pascale
    2019-05-18 21:17

    A fantastic book that deserves to be much better known. The book follows the narrator, a mother of 4 nicknamed "The Squire" because she is in sole charge of her household of kids and servants while her husband is away on his annual business trip to India. What's different this time is that his absence coincides with his wife's confinement. During the space of a few weeks before and after giving birth, this strong and competent woman deals with various crises involving her staff (the cook resigns, the substitute butler has to be sacked for drinking, and a maid for stealing bits and bobs) while engaging in long conversations with her neighbor and friend Caroline, a woman addicted to romance and afraid of motherhood. While obviously fulfilled by her maternal role, the squire protests just a little bit too much about her lack of regrets for the carefree life of a single woman. Bagnold was justly proud of having managed to sustain a long narrative devoted exclusively to the intimate thoughts and physical sensations of a heavily pregnant woman. Bagnold uses striking imagery to convey the state of mind of her character and her relationship with her fetus,and then with her new-born. She is equally good at sketching domestic scenes involving one or more of the children. Many passages are incredibly poetic, making this as funny as "The Diary of a Provincial Lady" but also more profound.

  • Brandee
    2019-04-26 18:10

    I so, so looked forward to this book. It seemed to have all I wanted: pregnancy, birth, motherhood, and details about the emotions and domesticity of each phase set in 1930s England. But I didn't much care for it, though I dog-eared many pages for perfectly sublime passages with which I could relate. I did get some sense, from those, of a "private" sharing which usually wasn't recorded in writing of that time period. Even today, if you talk too much about your own birthing and motherhood, if feels indulgent enough to make a woman keep a lot to herself, or to her journals, as I have always done. The squire had so much help, too much, so that I really couldn't get a true sense of her personality. The whole book seemed choppy, which at first I thought may be due to the actual edition that I have, which is a Virago Modern Classic from the 1980s...the field of text is tiny with huge margins all around and having to turn pages constantly didn't help this book to flow cohesively at all. Maybe the Persephone edition is better. That said, I always make it a policy to skip any foreword or commentary in the beginning until AFTER I read the book to stay open and uninfluenced by anything else. I did that this time, too and after an unsatisfying finish, I read Anne Sebba's introduction and found out that much of The Squire was based on journals kept by the author over a span of 15 years, which validated much of my perceptions. For all the keen observations about middle age, fear of dying, and the spirituality and exhaustion of motherhood, no "story" ever emerged and some characters like Caroline seemed to appear merely as a vehicle for various journal entries chosen to put in the book. That sort of thing happened many times, in my opinion, resulting in what sounded like mini-debates or persuasive essays rather than genuine conversation between friends. I wonder what just reprinting the actual journals would have been like? That sounds better to me, because there truly are some gems in this strangely arranged tale.

  • Maire
    2019-04-25 20:30

    A fascinating look into the process of pregnancy and childbirth through the eyes and thoughts of a mother of four about to have her fifth child. Interestingly, she is currently running her small estate on her own while her husband is traveling abroad for business. I loved seeing the world through her eyes, and really admired her courage and thoughtfulness about motherhood. The book’s strengths and weaknesses are both due to the unusual point of view--the book is mostly told through her stream of consciousness, which means that there are lots of time when the narrative gets dropped or confused. Usually I don’t mind this style--and sometimes I even love it--but for some reason it didn’t work the entire time for me. This may be because sometimes it felt too forced and other times it felt too distracted. However, I still found the read compelling and very eye-opening!

  • Elaine
    2019-05-02 17:14

    I liked it and found the subject of the book interesting. I did find Bagnold's prose a bit flowery and high blown at times. The topic of childbirth and motherhood in general was engaging to read about and I wish that there were more novels exploring it in a fictional way. I felt that my judgment of Bagnold's novelist's skills were some what clouded by notions that she is not highly thought of critically.

  • Richard
    2019-05-13 15:27

    This is really a domestic little book about a woman who is pregnant for the Nth time. The men are away. I found it really cozy and charming. I own two copies, one in paper and one hard cover (it was originally titled "The Door of Life").

  • Charlotte Fairbairn
    2019-05-07 21:13

    For mothers, wives, lovers of great writing, this is a majestic read. Full of amazing insights about children; very funny about the travails of being an employer; wonderful about womanhood. I recommend this with the only reservation that women/mothers will relate to it more than men might.

  • Belinda G
    2019-05-07 20:26

    I didn't *love* the squire herself, and some of the side characters were less than interesting, but the descriptions of motherhood and child rearing were beautiful.

  • Kay Robart
    2019-05-17 16:25

    See my review here: