[The Lilywhite Boys] is ambitious and at times brilliantly written; but somehow the family in the country house with do-gooding wife, gnomic cook, strange secretary and neglected sons, who make a religion of their mother, are unconvincing and don't tease the curiosity. Such very special cases need to be presented to the reader cunningly, so that they seem as important and interesting to him as to their creator. Being introduced to wonderful friends of friends and remaining quite unmoved is an unavoidable experience in life but it has no place in literature. Perhaps part of the trouble is that a short story theme is scaled up to a shortish novel. The book's real distinction in detached phrases, sentences and even paragraphs isn't enough to carry the central conception of the novel.
R.G.G. Price, "New Fiction: 'The Lilywhite Boys'," in Punch (© 1969 by Punch Publications Ltd.; all rights reserved; may not be reprinted without permission), Vol. 256, January 22, 1969, p. 142.
There is a certain kind of well endowed, energetic woman who spends her days doing good unto others….
Mrs. Dilly, the central figure of Josephine Poole's perceptive novel The Lilywhite Boys, is the epitome of such gifted, busy women….
[The] point about Mrs. Dilly and the problem of the novel is that people who spread light and happiness far...
(The entire section is 572 words.)