Yes I can confirm that Elizabeth Webster joins Hagar Shipley (The Stone Angel - Margaret Laurence) and Laura Palfrey (Mrs Palfrey at The Claremont - Elizabeth Taylor) into my esteemed ranks of memorable mature ladies in the pages of a novel.
Set against a backdrop of post 9/11 anxiety and suspicion Miss Webster, the "liquidated dinosaur" a retired languages teacher, succumbs to a mysterious illness that renders her catatonic.Hospitalized and helpless her recovery is slow but quickly dealt with as Patricia Duncker cleverly transports her reader back and forth throughout the book allowing them to effortlessly piece together past and present.
Frail but feisty, Miss Webster sets off for a recuperative trip to Africa and soon after her return the enigmatic adonis Cherif appears on her doorstep.Miss Webster's decisions plunge her into a chain of events all destined to transform her into the sort of person you somehow imagine she has always really wanted to be. Yes,at times mildly implausible but this is fiction after all,and as Patricia Duncker allows one of her characters to remind us, "Novels don't tell you anything.They're not real.They're just stories". Miss Webster and Cherif is much more than a good story.
I know of another mature lady who should join these ranks and will add her in the next few days.Keep an eye out for Frank Baker's remarkable and lesser know Miss Hargreaves, please start as you mean to go on and pronounce it Har-grayves before the lady herself appears in your sitting room to correct you.