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Domestic Disappointments: Feminine Middlebrow Fiction of the Interwar Years

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date07/2009
JournalHome Cultures
Number of pages12
Original languageEnglish


This article explores the relationship between gender, romantic love, domesticity, and disappointment in four examples of feminine middlebrow fiction of the mid-twentieth century: Rose Macaulay's Crewe Train (1926), E. M. Delafield's The Way Things Are (1927), Lettice Cooper's The New House (1936), and Mary Renault's The Friendly Young Ladies (1944). Building on the work of the literary critic Laura Quinney and the psychoanalyst Adam Phillips, it investigates the ways in which disappointment is implicated in the reproduction of domestic femininity in particular. Exploring the female protagonists' ambivalence towards domesticity, the article traces the ways in which the prospect of disappointment is embedded within the impossibility of their situations, the irreconcilability of their competing desires, and, more generally, in their sense of their own diminishing potentiality.