I was not familiar with Diana Gardner before reading The Woman Novelist. Diana Gardner’s Wikipedia page does not give much information, but according to Persephone biographies, Diana Gardner was a writer/ artist who was Virginia and Leonard Woolf’s neighbor during World War II.
The Woman Novelist, written in 1950 is a story of domesticity. Madeline, the main character, is a woman who is pursuing a career in writing. Her husband, Wykham lives away in London preparing to take the bar exam, but the grant he has received is not nearly enough to cover his expenses. So it is up to Madeline to provide for seven – herself and Wykham, their three children, her mother, and Wykham’s mother.
Although it is Madeline who keeps the family going financially, she gets little to no help from her husband and the two old ladies when it comes to running the house – be it cooking or cleaning. They depend on her to earn enough and take care of the household tasks! It is only because of Beryl, their faithful maid who comes to work for few hours daily that Madeline can get everything done and have two and half hours for herself to write. So when Wykham, who is on vacation at home is tempted by young Beryl what would happen? Wykham very well knows his wife can not do without Beryl.
I was taken back to the life in the 1950s while reading The Woman Novelist. Diana Gardner is a splendid writer with a good eye. It is a shame she only wrote one novel and a short story collection before becoming a full-time artist.