No End to Yesterday
This beautifully poised novel chronicles the extraordinary upbringing and early adulthood of Marjory Bell in the 1920s and ‘30s, in a rambling South London house teeming with eccentric uncles and aunts and their hangers-on. By turns harsh, kind, immoral, hypocritical, hilarious and spiteful, they are all dominated by the baleful presence of Marjory’s unrepentantly Victorian grandmother.
Marjory is motherless, her father a remote, weekend visitor to ’Gran’s house’, where Marjory belongs, but is isolated. Gran would crush her individuality, or crush her entirely: and Marjory has to bring all her intelligence, tenacity and humour into play to survive. As she remarks at one point, ‘Some of the animals in our family are nicer than some of the people.’ But she does survive. Glimpses of her adult life tell us the price she pays—but how she also never loses her wit, integrity and spark for life.
No End to Yesterday won the Whitbread Prize in 1977 as a children’s book, but it’s an adult story. Whitbread judge Lynne Reid Banks said: ‘The writing showed signs of a literary gift far beyond what one normally expects in children’s books or finds in adult novels. The whole environment and the period are imparted. The imagination is pricked awake by the author’s skill…and finds itself capable of evoking settings, smells, textures and even the strongly “other” emotions of that earlier time.’