Saturday, November 24, 2007

Paradise Place by Warwick Deeping

Title: Paradise Place
Author: Warwick Deeping
Publisher: Pan books, London/1949

I have a very old edition of Paradise Place, which I inherited from my maternal grandfather. After reading this book, I tried to look out for more Deepings. However, I did not find any. I did get a few downloaded from project Gutenberg. Somehow, that is not same as reading a book. I re-read it recently although it is falling apart. Silver fishes have eaten up the bindings!

Coming back to Paradise Place, I find it very well written and engrossing. It was first published in 1949. One of the last novels by Deeping. He died in 1950.

John Hallifax, having committed a crime lets himself believed to be dead so that his wife can live peacefully and not endure the stigma of his disgrace. His wife Rachel, is heart broken but remarries Charles Carrington Kean, a professor to dispel her loneliness. Charles hardly ever notices her. He is too busy. Her heart craves love and he does not provide it.

A few years later, a mysterious herb doctor John Balmfield, comes to live in shabby North London in a place called Paradise Place where, what we call as scum on the Earth, reside. It is a sordid side of Humanity. The inhabitants are curious about his identity but grateful for his herbs which cures what ails them. Rachel, bored with her life, volunteers to help a friend collect rent from Paradise Place and meets the herbalist. John Balmfield tries to avoid her as much as possible. From there we see a spark in Rachel and an unusual love story emerges through many twists and turns. Is Rachel ready to give up her riches for her new found love and live in poverty?

We see Rachel breaking apart when she gets a letter from Paris telling her about the death of her husband. We watch her growing cold even after her marriage with Charles. Her heart stays broken. Slowly we see it warming after her meeting with the herb doctor.

The poeple who live in Paradise place too are shown as warm and welcoming. They come to like Bamfield and accept him. They respect him for his knowledge of medicines and his cure. No other doctor is willing to serve them.

George Warwick Deeping (1877–1950) was one prolific English novelist and short story writer. His most famous novel is Sorrell and Son (1925).He was born in Essex into a family of doctors. He studied in Trinity College and finished his medical studies at the Middleton Hospital. After attaining success as a writer, Deeping gave up his job as a doctor and become a full-time writer. He wrote Historical Romances in his initial years of writing.

Deeping is a master storyteller. His words hold interest. He can get into the heart of matter. He seems to be forgotten as of now. He is one author who needs to be re-discovered. His works need to be widely read.