What Kathleen Did

by Jill McRae-Spencer
Released: 28th September, 2024
An alternative to the normal ‘romance’ genre which traditionally ends with the heroine marrying. A novel which tackles the issues of the choices facing women about their future between the First and Second world War.

Full synopsis

It is 1929 and 18-year-old Kathleen, from a prosperous middle-class London home, travels with her friend Alice to Devon for a holiday. While there she meets Jim Wilcox, a tenant farmer, and Robert Neville, heir to Alston Manor, the landlord. While Jim views a wife as subject to a husband’s will, as his property, Robert sees a husband’s role as protector.

Declaring she wants to ‘do’ something and not marry the first young man who comes along, Kathleen represents the modern woman. A most significant issue post war concerned the place of women in society. The press ran headlines such as ‘Our Surplus Women’ and the 1921 census confirmed that women outnumbered men by almost two million. The independent woman was for many men an alarming prospect. Marriage was considered the norm and to be left on the shelf a humiliation.

Seduced by Jim, Kathleen finds she is pregnant. She therefore finds that the choices she hoped to be able to make about her future are no longer possible due to her circumstances. She must become a farmer's wife for the sake of her child but this will be a hard and harsh life with few of the opportunities she had longed for. Her feelings for Robert will also be a constant reminder of a different and potentially happier life for her. It is with the start of the next war that a whole new future will suddenly open up for Kathleen, but her escape to a new life will come at a considerable cost.

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