The New House was given by Lettice Cooper to her nephew’s wife – Jilly Cooper, who writes in her new Persephone Preface: “More than forty years later, I still remember how enraptured I was by The New House, staying up all night to finish it.” Jilly Cooper continues: “For, like Charles Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson, whose biographies Lettice later wrote, she was above all a storyteller, not of action-packed sagas, but of adventures of the heart. All that outwardly happens in The New House is over one long day a family move from a large imposing secluded house with beautiful gardens to a small one overlooking a housing estate. But all the characters and their relationships with each other are so lovingly portrayed that one cares passionately what happens even to the unpleasant ones.”
The New House reads as freshly today because above all it is about the shifting balance of power within any family. Like her character Rhoda, Lettice was a true socialist, who although sad to leave a large, beautiful home, felt her conscience eased because it seemed right that such places should be knocked down to make way for lots of little houses for the poor.