THE LOVER NEXT DOOR by Keith Alldritt


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Seen through the eyes of eight-year-old Frank Sivorn, the Biddles next door were uncommonly attractive: not ""mutton done up as lamb,"" as one Wolver-hampton neighbor sneers, but generous and somewhat mysterious, and it is his innocent-bystander participation in their household power struggles that makes this WW II story so affecting. Frank spends evenings there because his mother works the night shift, and his preferred status with the three Biddles and a series of sometime callers exists in contrast to their tense family antagonisms and his more routine filial ties. Doris is the romantic younger sister who presses Frank with sweets and hopefully entertains one unacceptable man after another. Cath is the more intellectual older sister who converses easily with the boy and, sizing up the parlor's narrowing dimensions, marries on the sly. Dominating them both with boiling remarks and cunning interference is their imperious mother, the Old Girl, who blesses Frank with her favor but withholds it from Doris' procession of suitors and Cath's feckless husband, insulting them savagely while recalling halcyon days as a manse domestic. These relationships peak during a memorable car ride to the almost-mythical manse, then recede when the Sivorns move across town, although Frank's mother provides him with bits of sad news as he grows up so that his final meeting with Doris, years later, is appropriately poignant. Writing in the no-frills British tradition of crisp character distinctions (especially the suitors) and unembellished plotting, Alldritt skillfully turns a stock situation into an evocative encounter.

Pub Date: March 8th, 1978
Publisher: St. Martin's