Penelope Betjeman is feeling her age. She is 76 and she is tired. She sits outside a temple in a small village in the Himalayas, where she is leading a group of tourists through land she knows as well as her own face, and ponders. Her life has spanned much of the 20th Century, and included stints as a debutante and time spent living in Delhi in the dying days of the Raj. She eloped with one of the foremost poets of the age. She saw Hitler in Berlin, wrote for a paper or two, had two children and ran a home for years, until they grew up and flew. Her husband was the defining love-hate relationship of her life, but eventually, he left her too.
She knows she has not lived a conventional life. But, she asks herself, looking back down her life, sun warming her face, has she made the right choices?
Mrs Betjeman is a fictional account of the life of Penelope Betjeman, wife of the poet laureate John Betjeman. A relationship built on love and intellect, it survived many challenges including her parents’ snobbery, John’s fleeting infidelities and their many differences. But when, after 20 years of marriage, John fell permanently for a woman half his age, and refused to give her up, could it survive that too?