25 Dec 2009 – from Bridget

Somehow, I’ve bought this book for quite a few people but didn’t have a  copy of my own until Bridget bought me one for Christmas. 

From the atmospheric start to this book, where we find Mary in a remote cottage with her dog, waiting for news of… someone… I was hooked.  With the frame set in Essex, we then follow Mary back through her somewhat uneventful life between the wars, in a charming portrait of the trials of being a poorer relative, without a father, in thrall to your glamorous cousins and trying to find your way.  London, the countryside and Paris are all beautifully described and, as Mary encounters several different gentlemen, we always have those opening scenes at the back of our mind – of whom, exactly, is she waiting for news, and are they worthy of her attention? I particularly liked the portrayal of adult London life through the eyes of the young Mary, and enjoyed a character who is not always attractive, or indeed interesting, but so well drawn.  

Only aspect I really didn’t like was the casual anti-Semitism – I suppose this has to be read as being "of its time" and it’s not as bad as some other novels of the period!