Margery Sharp Cluny Brown ebook coverI want to say first of all that I’m very grateful to Open Road Media for making two Margery Sharp novels available to me for review before their official release. I would have bought “Cluny Brown” and “The Nutmeg Tree”, which I’ll be reviewing later today, anyway, and I will be buying all of the rest of them, as I never seem able to find the old hardbacks. I read and very much enjoyed “The Foolish Gentlewoman” for Beyond Eden Rock’s Margery Sharp Day and I’ve been looking forward to these ebook reissues for a while now. And what a treat they both were!

Margery Sharp – “Cluny Brown”

(ebook – acquired and read in March 2016)

A wonderful novel with a fun and distinctive heroine who doesn’t know her place (famously, as a plumber’s neice, she treats herself to tea at the Ritz; she also takes it upon herself to do a plumbing job on his behalf and gets all mixed up with a slightly dodgy playboy bachelor type with a very shiny bath). This last is the last straw for her Uncle Ern, her guardian, and he ships her off to be a made for the Carmel family in Devonshire. Off trots what one could describe as a London sparrow to spread her wings in the countryside.

Cluny is not the most natural maid, but takes to her duties cheerfully, being a hard worker and a practical soul in many ways. She makes friends with her fellow maid, the dog belonging to the other Big House, a chemist from the village …but  not with the Polish emigré Andrew Carmel, the son of the house, is rather over-excitedly hiding in the stable yard.

It’s not all froth, though. Published in 1944 (I always find books written during wars almost unbearably poignant) and set just pre-war, there is a definite sense of the coming of war and what different people’s roles will be. This gives a shadow underneath the book which gives it depth as well as fun. But for now we can enjoy the “types”  the Lord of the Manor, set in his ways, the high-maintenance London girl, and the more complex characters, and, of course, delicious Cluny herself, who is ever so plain until you suddenly realise she’s beautiful.

This book would suit … Lovers of mid-century women writers, and I think fans of modern author Victoria Clayton, who has similar characters and situations, too.

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You can find the links to buy the Cluny Brown ebook on various platforms here. I was provided with pre-acceptance to download the NetGalley version by Open Road Media in return for an honest review. The image used here is from their website.