Song of the Sea Maid by Rebecca Mascull
This is a beautifully written story, it speaks profoundly, and I know that I am going to go on thinking about it for a very long time.
It begins in the middle of the eighteenth century, with a girl child who lives on the streets. She and her brother had only their wits to live on, stealing what ever they could to survive from one day to the next. I was captivated by this child, by her life and her spirit, by her utter reality, before I even knew her name. And I knew that I had to follow her story before I understood why.
The day came when she was caught in an audacious act of thievery; and she was taken to an institution for destitute and friendless children. She was heartbroken to be separated from her brother; she knew that he had been seized by what she would later learn was a press-gang, but she couldn’t tell what was his name, what was her name, what was the story of her life.
She was given the name Dawnay Price, for the man who had taken her from the streets, the man she would come to know as her ‘benefactor’. Because it was her great good fortune to have been taken to an enlightened institution, where it was believed that even an impoverished, uneducated, unwanted orphan could be raised to a place in the world.
As Dawnay was raised she developed a fierce intelligence, a burning curiosity about the world and everything in it, and a passion to learn and discover everything she could. She had a calling to be a natural philosopher – and the belief that she could be just that.
It didn’t occur to her that she couldn’t – because she was a girl, because she had no means – because she hadn’t been raised in a family, in a world, that said she couldn’t. That was wonderful, and Dawnay’s voice was to real and so engaging. It reflected her intelligence, her passion and her scientific outlook on life.
She has the good fortune to meet people what are able to help her, and the even greater fortune that they are open-minded enough to give her a chance and to be won over by the wonderfully persuasive way she argues her case. Dawnay wins wonderful chances, to study, and to travel so that she can discover more and theorise more about the world around her. She sees wonderful things, she has remarkable experiences, and she continues to blaze a trail, never accepting that she should be restricted in her quest for knowledge and understanding.
In time she formed some very advanced – and very controversial theories about the world, about how it came to be, and about how it came to be what it was.
I was utterly captivated by Dawany, by her story, by her experiences. She was – they were – so utterly real, and I was infected by her life and her spirit. She reminded me how marvellous it is to be alive in the world, to travel, to learn, to experience. The world that she moved through, the people that she met, the things that she experienced, were every bit as vivid, every bit as alive as she was. I was smitten and I turned that pages very quickly, because I was so eager to now how the story would play out.
I appreciated the wonderful depth and breadth of research that underpinned everything; it was lightly worn but it was clearly there, and I couldn’t doubt for a minute that the author loved everything that she learned and everything that she wrote about. She told her story so very well, and she wrote beautifully. There were evocative descriptions and tumbling lists that captured Dawnay’s interest in the world, there was cool, clear storytelling that reflected her scientific outlook, and there were so many ideas, so many lovely details, to consider.
There was drama, there was humour, there was tragedy – everything that a life story should have.
It might be said that Dawnay was lucky, and yes she was, but to some degree she made her own luck. History is full of stories of women who stepped outside the confines of the society and the situation they were born into. She did have setbacks too.
I noticed similarities in theme between this book and Rebecca Mascull’s first novel – The Visitors – but I appreciated that they were different in so any ways. I’m inclined to say that the first book was tilted more towards the heart and this one was tilted more towards the head; I loved both, for the same and for different reasons.
A love story does evolve in the latter part of the book; it’s as unconventional as its heroine, and that felt right. The events and the emotions of the closing chapters were unexpected but utterly right.
I know that there are any more things to be said about this book; and I’m sure that there were things that passed me by because I was so caught up with Dawnay and her experiences.
But I’ll just say one more thing – and that’s that I loved the heart and soul of this book.
Becoming Queen by Kate Williams
This is not the book that I expected it to be – it’s more in some ways but less in others.
The title, the image on the front cover, the words on the back cover – they all suggest that this is a book about the early years and the beginning of the reign of Queen Victoria. And it is, but there’s a great deal of ground to cover before the story gets there, because this story goes much further back.
It tells the story of two young women who might have been Queen. Each was her presumptive to the British throne, each seemed likely to ascend to that throne, but only one of them did. And she was only born because the other did not.
It’s an amazing true story – or it might be truer to say a series of stories – very well told, in a style that is both chatty and informative. It’s clear that the storyteller knows and loves her subject, and that she is eager to share what she knows.
Princess Charlotte of Wales was born in 1796 to Prince George – later Prince Regent, later George IV – and his wife, Princess Caroline of Brunswick. Although her parents adored her, they detested one another and used her as a weapon in their squabbles. She had a lonely childhood, surrounded by governesses and servants but seeing few other children, and seeing her parents very rarely.
And athough it was apparent early on that she might become Queen of England, she was given little education or preparation for the role she was expected to be called upon to play.
Charlotte was born into an age when the large, profligate royal family was poorly regarded by its subjects. But she was popular; the hope of not just the masses but also those of the upper class who saw the desperate need for reform. Her dissolute, spendthrift father hated that, and so he did his level best to keep her away from the public gaze, shut up in a grand mansion run by his own trusted servants. .
She grew up to be spoiled and wilful; but she also grew up to be vibrant, energetic, and very good at managing people.
When her father tried to marry her off to the unattractive and unappealing Prince of Orange she finally rebelled. Charlotte made some missteps, but eventually she turned to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, who she described as “a good tempered man with good sence, with whom I could have a reasonable hope of being less unhappy & comfortless than I have been in a single state.”
Charlotte was eager to escape from her father’s tyranny, and her father was eager to marry her off to a foreign prince and hopefully get her out of England for at least part of each year.
The young couple were married on May 2, 1816, and then moved into their Surrey estate, Claremont House, where for the first time in her life Charlotte was secure and happy. Very soon she was expecting a child.
On November 5, 1817, after nearly three days of labour, Charlotte gave birth to a stillborn boy. The next day, she followed him to the grave.
Public grief was overwhelming. And after the Prince Regent and his six brothers, there was no heir to the throne. George III had ore than fifty grandchildren, but not one was legitimate.
Charlotte’s death set off an unseemly rush to the altar by several the of the sons of George III. Mistresses and morganic wives were cast aside. The Duke of Kent, a lifelong military man, set out to court Prince Leopold’s widowed sister, Victoire. They married in 1818, and barely nine months later, the duchess gave birth to a girl, who would be named Alexandrina Victoria.
The Duke died before his daughter was a year old.
Her mother kept her close, and kept her away from the world, determined that she would reign as her daughter’s regent.
William IV – her uncle, who had come to the throne after the death of George IV – steeled himself to live long enough for his niece to come of age, so that she could rule without a regent.
And her widowed uncle, Prince Leopold, who later became King of the Belgians, remained close to his sister and niece; and he spent years groomed his young nephew, Price Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, for the role that Leopold himself had hoped to assume – Prince Consort to the Queen of England.
That story rolls on until Victoria is a wife and mother and twenty-two years old – the age that Charlotte was when she died.
The telling of this whole extraordinary story is wonderful; it’s full of detail and it is clearly underpinned by a great deal of research.
I loved that it made history a very human story.
But I was disappointed that it didn’t highlight the parallels between Charlotte and Victoria, and that the author seemed more interested in comparisons with the present day. I was disappointed with that lack of analysis generally, and that momentum of the story overtook almost everything else.
I was left to do all of my own thinking, and I loved doing that but I couldn’t help thinking that I shouldn’t have had to do quite so muc hwork.
And yet I was engaged from start to finish by a story I already knew; I had a lovely time reading, and I am eager to read more about many people and events that this books touched upon.
Policy and Passion by Rosa Praed
The name ‘Praed’ speaks to me of home: because it is very much a Cornish name, and because we have a number of paintings of familiar places, painted by an artist of that name, in out home. That was why the name of Rosa Praed, 19th century author, caught my eye. I couldn’t find a Cornish connection, indeed she came from the opposite side of the world, but when I read about her, and about her books, I was intrigued.
Rosa Praed was an Australian author, maybe the first to be acclaimed at home and internationally, and though her husband’s career took them to England she continued to write novels set in her homeland. She published more than twenty books between 1880 and 1916, and I liked the look of any of the, but ‘Policy and Passion’ was the book that caught my eye. It filled a year in my 100 Years of Books project, and that title made me think of my beloved Mr Trollope ….
It might well have been influenced by him, but Rosa Praed was the daughter of a cabinet minister and this story is firmly rooted in her world.
At its centre are a father and a daughter.
Thomas Longleat had risen from humble origins to become Premier of Leichardt’s Land (Queensland). He was charismatic, he was respected by his parliamentary colleagues, and he was popular, particularly with the working-classes. A knighthood from Queen Victoria should have been his for the taking, but he made a fatal misstep. He fell in love with the wife of a colleague, Constance Vallancy, and he made use of his position to send her husband away travelling so the he could spend time with his wife. Passion blinded his political judgement and of course there would be consequences ….
Honoria was the Premier’s elder daughter, and she was poised between childhood and womanhood. She was beautiful, she was headstrong, and she lacked a mother to guide her. She turned away an a very eligible suitor, a rising politician loyal to her father, when she was charmed by Hardress Barrington, a visiting English aristocrat. She didn’t know that he would never contemplate marrying the colonial daughter of a self-made man, and that he had it in mind to set her up as his mistress in an establishment of her own. She would find out …..
The characters of father and daughter, and the relationship between them, are beautifully drawn. They were utterly believable and understandable, the products of their lives, their circumstances and their times. I felt for them, and at ties I was infuriated by them. The dialogues between them – as each saw the failings of the other and their beloved that the other was blind to – were marvellous.
The others around them and the world that they moved through were just as well drawn. I never doubted that I had been pulled into a very real time and place.
I appreciated that nothing was too black and white. Hardress Barrington behaved badly, but he did care, he just hadn’t learned to think about and understand how others might feel. And, though Constance Vallancy behaved badly too, she was an abused and unhappy wife, and she found comfort in masculine attention and in lovely things ,,,,
The writing was both clear and lovely, the storytelling was wonderfully engaging, and so I had to keep turning the pages; I was always involved, always anxious to know what happened next.
The two storylines were distinctive, but of course they overlapped, and they were woven together, they worked together beautifully.
The father’s political crisis and the daughter’s coming of age would coincide. The story came dangerously close to melodrama, but it worked because everything that every character said and did rang true. It was fate that maybe overplayed its hand ….
‘Policy and Passion’ is a very fine drama – I’m not sure if it’s ever been dramatised, but it would work beautifully on stage or screen.
I loved it on the page, and I definitely plan to find out more about Rosa Praed and her other books.
A Dog Blogs: I’m ready for summer!
Hello bookish friends – it’s me – Briar!
It’s funny, I didn’t do a blog for ages and ages, and then two came along in rapid succession.
Jane said the blogging can be like that. And so can buses.
I have to tell you that I went to the groomer this morning, to have my double coat hand-stripped and to have be other bits brushed and trimmed and polished.
When Jane took the day off, and when we got up early and went out in the car I thought we were going for a lovely walk in the country. But we weren’t. My groomer is very nice, but I don’t really like being left there to be ‘done’.
Us borders have double coats, so clipping doesn’t work on us. The old hairs have to be stripped out and the new hairs have to be left behind. It doesn’t hurt if it’s done right, but it is a bit itchy. I had my ears and whiskers tidied up too, and a lot of general grooming.
I was very good, my groomer told Jane that when she came back to settle my account and drive me home.
Jane said I looked like a different dog – and that I looked lovely,
Here are pictures to prove it!
The first picture was taken in the par a few days ago, when it was very warm and so we had a bit of a sit-down.
The second picture was taken today. We stopped off at the boating pool on the way home, so that I could have a swim and a run on the grass.
It’s going to take me a while to get used to being a smart dog again, but I’m pleased that I’m ready for the summer to come.
I’m having a rest now, and I’ll be going to the beach later, because it’s low tide at walk time.
I will be back soon. And Jane will be back sooner, to talk about books I expect ….
The Innocent and the Guilty by Sylvia Townsend Warner
This is a very slim volume, it holds just nine short stories, and it is a little gem. Because Sylvia Warner was so very good at short stories; a mistress of the art. She brought such imagination to stories set in a very real world; she crafted, she distilled, to produce perfect miniatures.
These stories – seven written for the New Yorker and two specially written for this book – are diverse, but they all spin around the theme of innocence and guilt. Not in such black and white terms of course; Sylvia Townsend Warner was much more subtle and much more clever than that. She wrote with such lovely irony and understatement.
That worked so well for ‘Bruno’, the story of an elderly Scotsman with a very handsome younger companion. He thought that when they went home to his family estate his companion would play nicely, but that wasn’t in his nature.
“Where did Cousin Gilbert find you?”
“He picked me up on a beach.”
“Like a shell?”
“Like a beautiful shell. And sometimes he puts an ear against my ribs and listens to the noise of the sea.”
‘The Perfect Setting’ is a lovely social satire. The widow of a poet is sure that she has uncovered important documents that will enhance his reputation, but the three interested parties who visit her all have very different ideas.
There’s a short story that plays out like a scene from ‘Play for Today.’ ‘The Quality of Mercy’ has two roughly-hewn young men help home a young woman who had had far too much to drink. They are kind, she is grateful, but her family blame them for the state she is in and hurl abuse. It’s simple and its perfectly executed.
So is ‘The Truth in the Cup’. A middle-aged group of hotel guests in putting the world to rights while a storm rages. One man steps outside and finds himself in the eye of the storm, until he finds sanctuary in a phone box. His experience is so vividly captured that this conclusion feels entirely right:
“I’m Crichellow 626,” he said. “Can you hear me?”
The voice encouraged him to go ahead. After a pause, it offered him the alternatives of the Fire Brigade, the Police, the Ambulance Service. None of those seemed perfectly to apply. But it wouldn’t so to sound unappreciative.
“It’s hard to say. You see, the sea’s broken in.”
It’s a fragment – several of these stories are – but fragments that must have been broken away from a whole that was exquisite.
One story though is exceptional, and I think it is one of the finest short stories I have ever read.
‘But at the Stroke of Midnight’ moves from formality to wildness; from domesticity to freedom; from safety to danger. It’s beautifully observed and understood by its author. Some authors would have turns the material into a whole novel – and it could be ‘Lolly Willowes’, reimagained when the author was thinking about the world rather differently – but here it is the perfect miniature.
I can’t explain it – I shouldn’t try to explain it – what I should do is tell you to read it. Don’t look it up; go in cold and be dazzled as I was.
This volume is out of print I’m afraid, but Open Library has it, and I’m told that it’s in the volume of collected short stories that Virago has in print.
I struggle to write about short stories, but I do know that Sylvia Townsend wrote them very, very well.
Dog Walking and a Musical Interlude
In the morning a walk to the boating pond, where we’ve been taking Briar ever since she was old enough to wall that far. she loves playing with balls on the grass, and in and out of the water. And then we walked home along the promenade, early enough that we were ahead of the masses we knew would appear on a sunny Sunday.
In the afternoon the promenade was busy but the beach was empty and the tide was low. I took Briar down to the beach. She waited half-way down the steps, hoping that I would throw down a ball from the top. When she realised that wasn’t going to happen she went on down for a look around. And when she saw that I was heading out to the rocks she dashed down the beach to catch up with me. She loves scrambling across rocks and splashing about in rock pools.
It was lovely to have the beach to ourselves for most of the walk, but a pity that more people don’t appreciate it as we do.
We could hear the music from the hotel at the end of our terrace from the beach. This Sunday it was a man with a guitar, and I heard one song that I particularly love. I was far too young to appreciate in its day, but when I heard it years later ….
This evening we didn’t get beyond the back lane when Briar sat down – telling me she’s had her full quoata of walks for the day, thank you very much!
The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain
This is a lovely little book: a bittersweet romantic comedy that captivated me from the very first page.
A young woman, Laure, arrives home late at night, after dinner with friends. As she arrives at her apartment block somebody tries to snatch her handbag. She resists, but she is shoved against the door frame and her bag slips from her grasp.
She can’t get through the security door without her keys; she can’t call anyone because she relied on the mobile phone in her bag to remember their numbers; and she can’t get anywhere or do anything without the cash or cards in the purse in her handbag.
It was fortunate that the manager of the hotel across the road saw her very real distress and offered her a room and a bed for the night. Everything could be sorted out in the morning. Except it wouldn’t be that simple.
The next day a bookseller, Laurent, sees the bag sitting on top of a rubbish bin. He recognises that it is a very good bag, not the kind of bag that would be casually discarded, and so he picks it up to hand in at the police station. But he found it wouldn’t be that easy. He was too early and would have to wait for an hour, and then there would be forms to complete and questions to be answered. Laurent couldn’t wait; he had a shop to open and so he left, intending to do something about the bag later.
In the end he decided that he would examine the contents of the bag and see of he could find the owner himself. Of course the purse, the keys and the phone were gone but there were things that could be helpful; a keyring with a hieroglyph, a dry-cleaners ticket, and a novel, personally signed to ‘Laure’ by the author.
And he found a red notebook, that the owner had used to scribble all sorts of notes. He felt rather guilty, reading something so personal, but he hoped that he might find a stronger clue to the identity of the bag, and the more he read the more he realised he really wanted to now her.
Laurent’s efforts to find Laure had results; he found her home, he met her cat, but Laure wasn’t there.
There are more twists in the tale – some predictable and some not – before it reaches exactly the right ending.
This is a story that screams ‘FILM ME!’ I can see it, I really can.
The setting, a lightly romanticised Paris – including a lovely, lovely bookshop – is lovely.
I liked the people. The two leads were nicely balanced, and they were well supported by a jealous girlfriend, an opinionated teenage daughter, a helpful colleague …. It’s a very well balanced cast.
There are lovely details: literary references – that I must confess I didn’t know well enough to know how significant they were; Laure had an interesting occupation; and she had a lovely cat who had a small but significant part to play.
The story is a little contrived, of course it is, but it works well and it does come from the characters; their actions and their emotions.
It works beautifully, as the most charming of entertainments.
I was engaged, and I cared, from start to finish.
The Meeting Place by Mary Hocking
I’m very pleased that when I went to look for a book to read for Mary Hocking Reading Week I found ‘The Meeting Place’, her final novel, published in 1996. As I read I found much to love, much to admire, and a storyteller who had much to say.
The story opens as Clarice Mitchell, a sixty-nine year-old, retired head-teacher, was driving across country. to an isolated farmhouse where she was to rehearse a production of Pericles. She was thinking of the past, because, by chance, she was visiting the family home of her former head-mistress; the woman who had inspired her and made her want to become a teacher too.
Near her journey’s end, as the light faded, she was startled to see a woman in old -fashioned dress standing in open country, where there could surely be no reason for any woman to be.
“It was as if some unseen hand had thrown down an old painting in front of her; a woman standing in a rocky pool formed by a spring.”
But the woman disappears as suddenly as she appeared.
The next day, as two theatre companies rehearse in adjacent barns, Clarice sees another strange woman, in 15th century garb, pass through her rehearsal space. Others suggest that she was a member of the other theatre company, in her costume for their production of the crucible, but though Clarice nods in agreement she knows in her heart that she isn’t. And when she is troubled by dizzy spells she wonders if maybe the job she has taken on is too much for her.
She thinks more and more of the past, of difficulties she faced as a head teacher, of how they affected her relationships with the men in her life, and of how, maybe, she had been restricted because she was a woman.
She wonders about the women she saw, and their stories unfold alongside hers. One is set in the fifteen century, the other is set in the early years of the twentieth century, and though all three stories are distinctive they have similar themes, and they sit well together.
I wouldn’t call this a ghost story or a time-slip story though. It’s more subtle than that, and it’s a much more grown-up story than those descriptions suggest. I’d call it a story set in a place where there is much that is unchanged and timeless, and where the sensitive may perceive echoes of the past.
The smoothness and naturalness of Mary Hocking’s writing made it very easy to keep turning the pages. I’ve seen her compared with Elizabeth Taylor, and I can agree with that comparison, though I would say that Mary Hocking had a little more grit.
I saw a wonderful depth of understanding in all of the sides of the story, and an instinctive grasp of character. Clarice’s character was particularly well done. She was capable, she was intelligent, she was compassionate, and I really don’t think I have read a better portrayal of a woman of her age and generation.
My mother was a teacher of that same generation; she loved teaching and I can imagine them talking over the things that Clarice was remembering, because they were so very, very real.
The only slight weakness of this book, for me, was that the story was told at a certain distance. Mary Hocking presents her characters rather than engaging with them, and gives her writing a degree of coolness. I like a little more warmth, but she does so any things so very well that I will always pick up any of her books that I find.
The end of the story brought everything together, in a way that was sad but inevitable. I realised that it had been foreshadowed, but that I had been caught up with the story and the characters and those signs passed me by.
‘The Meeting Place’ is a wonderfully accomplished, intelligent novel; and I am sorry that it is out of print and that its author isn’t more widely recognised.
10% Report: 100 Years of Books
I’m so pleased that I picked up my 100 Years of Books project and began again.
I’ve read two and a half books since my last update; I’ve rediscovered the joy of digging up books to fit difficult years; and I already have ten ore books to present to you, because I found a good number of books to match up with years that needed them from my reading in the time between putting down and picking up this project.
Here they are:
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1853 – Bleak House by Charles Dickens
“The stories told by the two narrator overlap and characters move between them. The story of the consequences of the chancery suit and the story of the illegitimate child, a story that had been buried but will be disinterred, work together beautifully, although they are linked only by a small number of characters who are involved in both. I loved the diverse elements, I loved the wealth of detail; and although I can’t sum up the plot and the relationship I had no problem at all understanding all of the implications, and I was always intrigued.”
1878 – Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
“I might have loved Anna if I had met her when I was younger, but I am afraid that I found her infuriating. I loved her spirit, I loved her vitality, but I could not accept that she was so oblivious to anyone else’s feelings and while it might be wonderful to want everything – to live with your lover, to have your child with you always, to hold a high position in society – it is not always possible to have everything you want; life sometimes demands compromises.”
1884 – Jill by Amy Dillwyn
“Jill was the much loved daughter of a prosperous squire, but her life changed when her mother died and when a gold-digger succeeding in luring her father to the altar. She hated her step-mother’s new regime, especially when she realised she wouldn’t be allowed to come out until her two step-sisters had been found husbands. That was why she decided to run away and to earn her own living in London.”
1887 – The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde
“The Canterville Ghost haunted Canterville Chase for more than three hundred years, but things changed when his home was sold to an American family. Lubricating oil was proffered when he clanked his chains, detergents were deployed when he left bloodstains, and young children aimed their peashooters whenever they caught sight of him. He deployed every trick he had in his armoury, but nothing worked. One final, desperate act had unexpected consequences, and led to exactly the right ending. There’s so much here – gentle but knowing satire of English and American attitudes, real pathos in the plight of the ghost, and a lovely thread of romance – it all works together beautifully.”
1893 – In the Vine Country by Somerville & Ross
“There is much to be enjoyed here: accounts of travel by train and by boat; observations of people, places and so many things that the ladies see long the way; time spent at vineyards, where they saw the harvest and the treading of the grapes; visits to chateaux, where they were most impressed by the great barrels that lay maturing. Along the way they sketched, and they were very proud of their Kodak wherever they went.”
1895 – The Young Pretenders by Edith Henrietta Fowler
“It’s heart-breaking, watching two grown-ups – three when the governess arrives – getting things so terribly wrong. Thank goodness that the children had each other, that they were resilient, that in their innocence it didn’t occur to them that anyone could ever have anything other than good intentions, however inexplicable their actions might be. I couldn’t help thinking how wonderful their lives might have been in the hands of the right grown-up; somebody with the wisdom to gently guide them, to tactfully explain things, to understand the magic of childish imagination and play.”
1912 – Alexander’s Bridge by Willa Cather
“I must confess that I didn’t really remember ‘Alexander’s Bridge’, Willa Cather’s first novel, from 1912; but I did remember that she hadn’t written a book that she didn’t like. Now that I’ve read it again I have to sat that it isn’t her finest work. The story is a little underdeveloped, a little contrived; the writing, though lovely, is sometimes a little less than subtle. But it is a very accomplished and very readable first novel. Her understanding of character, her skill in evoking places was there; I could see so many signs of the fine novelist she would quickly become.”
1915 – I Pose by Stella Benson
“At the beginning I felt that Stella Bowen was presenting a puppet show; later I felt that she was staging a production at the theatre, but by the end of the story I had been drawn into a very human story. It was a story that explored the relationship between the poses we present to the world and our real concerns in all of its complexity with wit and with such understanding. I don’t know what Stella Benson did, I don’t know how she did it, but she did it quite brilliantly.”
1937 – Enchanter’s Nightshade by Ann Bridge
“The story is of a family that has grown so big that it has become a community, spending the summer months in the country. Days drift by as they exchange visits, go on picnics, and make trips to places of especial interest. The young are kept busy with lessons in the mornings before that are given their freedom in the afternoons and evenings. One family has a Swiss governess of many years standing who is wise and capable, and who has tactfully and effectively managed the household since the death of its mistress. Another family is awaiting the arrival of a new governess from England.”
1938 – The Wild Geese by Bridget Boland
“Britain and Ireland were ruled by the House of Hanover, but the throne was contested by Jacobite rebels, supporters of the descendants of the deposed King James II. Catholics were repressed by their Protestant rulers: they could not own land, enter many trades and professions, educate their children in their faith, or worship as they chose. Many could not live with those laws, and this story tells of the implications of those laws for one family. It’s a story told entirely in letters.”
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The full list of what I’ve read is here and my first three 10% reports are here, here and here.
I’m well on my way to my next 10% already. It may take me a while to get there but that doesn’t matter, I’m enjoying the journey.