Dress Down Sunday: Saving Your Stockings

Dress Down Sunday -
what goes on under the clothes

the book:

No Grave for a Lady by John and Emery Bonett

published 1959 chapter 1

In the half-lit passage she saw the Mittel-European ‘help’ coming downstairs with hat and coat on.

‘Has everything been all right, Elsa?’

‘Yes Madame. The boy say he can have the light until you come home. Is that right, madame?’

‘Well, I didn’t say so, but he’s asleep now anyway. You’re going out?’

‘Yes please, madame. Unless you want me. I hear you come in so I get my coat. I go to the Empire, second house. My friend tell me is very good, very much for laugh.’

‘Off you go then, Elsa. Have a good time.’

Ashe heard the front door close and the footsteps dwindle along the pavement. She went into the living-room and sat on the edge of a chair so as not to seat her good grosgrain suit. The party was over now, too soon by far. And it needn’t have been. Ashe could have told Elsa she was going out again. She needn’t even have come home at all as it turned out. Automatically she undid her two back suspenders to spare her nylons and took off her hat.

observations: This could be from a serious novel of the 1950s – Ashe and her husband are publishers, and it’s a book launch she has just returned from. She is bothered by the fact that her husband has gone on out to dinner with his attractive ‘lady author’ and she - torn between child, childcare, work and marriage – fears she has missed out all round. (It could be from a novel of 2012 for that matter.)

In fact it’s a forgotten detective novel – husband-and-wife team John and Emery Bonett wrote several of them, and they are excellent, full of life and interest and great characters, as well as murder. Perhaps they were the
Nicci French of their day. They deserve to be rediscovered.

We’d be willing to bet that this particular section was written by Emery, because of that detail of loosening suspenders to save the nylons. It’s an authentic detail from the time, something that would have been real to millions of women, but rarely appeared in books, and not something men would know about.

Links up with: for more Dress Down Sunday (and lots of stockings and suspenders), click on the label below.
Jane Austen was very much concerned with stockings, as were the Little Women girls, and the Midwife – similar era - wore nylons to go out in.

The picture is by Berthe Morisot, from
Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Moira - Oh, I like it that you highlighted a lesser-known book. I've not yet read this one and it looks as though I ought to. And good spot about that loosening of suspenders, too!

  2. Thanks Margot, and yes, right up my street, just the kind of little clothes detail I like. I like the Bonett books, and think you might too - very classic and of their time.

  3. Oh my goodness, these are very obscure authors of mysteries. Not that I am an expert, but I have never heard of them. After seeing this, I looked them up in a couple of reference books. One dismissed their books, but the review of Dead Lion in 1001 Midnights called it an "exquisitely crafted classical mystery." So I will have to keep my eyes open or go searching online.

    Not likely to be at the booksale (which starts Friday) but you never know.

    1. Tracy, I don't know why some people survive and some don't:it's not always based on quality, is it? I like the Bonetts very much, though partly because of the lovely historical atmosphere of the 1950s they give - which wouldn't have been so obvious at the time. I have Dead Lion also, another good one. I think I mentioned before that I used to buy old green penguins whenever I saw them (so long as they were cheap) and that's how this one came into my library: it cost me £1, so a dollar and a half.


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