The Persephone Book of Short Stories: Wednesday by Dorothy Whipple


Wednesday is the second short story by Dorothy Whipple in The Persephone Book of Short Stories. (I reviewed A Lovely Time earlier) As beautiful and realistic Dorothy Whipple’s short stories are, sometimes they can be a bit agonizing. But pain is part and parcel of life, so it is not necessarily a bad thing.

The protagonist in Wednesday is Mrs. Bulford. Although she refers to herself as Mrs. Bulford, we soon realize she is no longer a Mrs. It turns out she had a short-lived affair with a man introduced to her by her husband – her effort to have one last romance before she gets too old – which ultimately cost her everything including her children. At the end of that sorry episode, her ex-husband gets full custody of their three children and a pretty little wife to replace her.

According to the terms of their custody arrangements, “Mrs. Bulford” can see their children for a few hours on the first Wednesday each month. The first Wednesday after the divorce had gone terribly. The children had not been able to understand why their mother has to leave and not come to the house with them. But now, eighteen months later, the children have come to accept the situation and the new mommy, whom they refer to as “Mumsie,” leaving “Mrs. Bulford” to watch her children grow from a distance.

Wednesday reminded me of Under the Influence. Both mothers made one mistake, and they lost the custody of their offspring over it. While their mistakes could have been avoided, the portrayal of both mothers are deeply compassionate, and that made me empathize with them…

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